Warming Up to the Notion That Febrile Seizures Can Be Associated With Cognitive Impairment

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Cognitive Impairment Following Experimental Febrile Seizures Is Determined by Sex and Seizure Duration Kloc ML, Marchand DH, Holmes GL, Pressman RD, Barry JM. Epilepsy Behav. 2022;126:108430. doi:10.1016/j.yebeh.2021.108430 Background: Febrile seizures are the most common type of seizures in children. While in most children the outcome is favorable, children with febrile status epilepticus may exhibit modest cognitive impairment. Whether children with other forms of complex febrile seizure, such as repetitive febrile seizures within the same illness are at risk of cognitive deficits is not known. In this study, we used a well-established model of experimental febrile seizures in rat pups to compare the effects of febrile status epilepticus and recurrent febrile seizures on subsequent spatial cognition and anxiety. Methods: Male and female rat pups were subjected to hyperthermic seizures at postnatal day 10 and were divided into groups of rats with continuous seizures for ≥40 min or recurrent febrile seizures. They were then tested as adults in the active avoidance and spatial accuracy tests to assess spatial learning and memory and the elevated plus maze to measure anxiety. Results: Febrile status epilepticus rats demonstrated impaired spatial cognition in active avoidance and spatial accuracy and exhibited reduced anxiety-like behavior in the elevated plus maze. Rats with recurrent febrile seizures did not differ significantly from the controls on any measures. There were also significant sex-related differences with females with FSE performing far better than males with FSE in active avoidance but demonstrating a navigational learning impairment relative to CTL females in spatial accuracy. However, once learned, females with FSE performed the spatial accuracy task as well as CTL females. Conclusion: There is a duration-dependent effect of febrile seizures on subsequent cognitive and behavioral outcomes. Febrile status epilepticus resulted in spatial cognitive deficits and reduced anxiety-related behaviors whereas rats with recurrent febrile seizures did not differ from controls. Sex had a remarkable effect on spatial cognitive outcome where males with FSE fared worse than females with FSE. The results demonstrate that sex should be considered as a biological variable in studies evaluating the effects of seizures on the developing brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-201
Number of pages3
JournalEpilepsy Currents
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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