Regional distribution of the anticonvulsant and behavioural effects of bicuculline injected into the pontine reticular formation of rats

Safa Shehab, Joseph Guadagno, Karen Ferguson, Peter Redgrave

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Previous experimental work has established that activation of sires in the dorsal midbrain can suppress tonic hindlimb extension in the electroshock model of epilepsy. The most sensitive region for this effect is centred on the intercollicular area and is referred to as the dorsal midbrain anticonvulsant zone (DMAZ). Subsequent experiments have shown that the ipsilateral descending projection from this region to the ventrolateral pons is critically involved in mediating its tonic seizure-suppressing properties. The purpose of the present investigation was to test whether direct anticonvulsant effects in the electroshock model could be obtained from selective manipulation of DMAZ target regions in the ventrolateral pons. Animals were prepared with chronically implanted guide cannulae through which microinjections could be made directly into the lateral pontine reticular formation. Animals received injections of saline or bicuculline (25-100 pmol) administered either bilaterally or unilaterally. The effects of these injections on the animals' behaviour were determined in an open arena, after which maximal electroshock (1 s, 40 mA, 50 Hz AC) was administered via ear-clip electrodes and the duration of tonic hindlimb extension was recorded. Bilateral injections of bicuculline (100 pmol) suppressed tonic seizures at a significantly higher proportion of sites centred on DMAZ target regions of the ventrolateral pons than surrounding areas. For injections centred on this region the suppressive effects of bicuculline were dose-related in the range 25-100 pmol. Unilateral injections of bicuculline into the ventrolateral pons also effectively suppressed tonic seizures in the electroshock model. Within the ventral pons there was a significant association between the behavioural and anticonvulsant effects of bicuculline; injections suppressing tonic seizures were associated with the induction of fast continuous locomotor activity. These data confirm that the DMAZ recipient region of the ventrolateral pontine reticular formation is part of a circuit which can suppress the manifestation of tonic hindlimb extension in the electroshock model. Whether this property is related to the participation of this region in normal locomotion and posture remains to be determined.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1875-1884
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Epilepsy
  • Locomotion
  • Maximal electroshock
  • Pons
  • Reticular formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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