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Capsaicin Exerts Anti-convulsant and Neuroprotective Effects in Pentylenetetrazole-Induced Seizures


The transient receptor potential vanilloid-1 (TRPV1) receptor has been implicated in the development of epileptic seizures. We examined the effect of the TRPV1 agonist capsaicin on epileptic seizures, neuronal injury and oxidative stress in a model of status epilepticus induced in the rat by intraperitoneal (i.p.) injections of pentylenetetrazole (PTZ). Capsaicin was i.p. given at 1 or 2 mg/kg, 30 min before the first PTZ injection. Other groups were i.p. treated with the vehicle or the anti-epileptic drug phenytoin (30 mg/kg) alone or co-administered with capsaicin at 2 mg/kg. Brain levels of malondialdehyde (MDA), reduced glutathione (GSH), nitric oxide, and paraoxonase-1 (PON-1) activity, seizure scores, latency time and PTZ dose required to reach status epilepticus were determined. Histopathological assessment of neuronal damage was done. Results showed that brain MDA decreased by treatment with capsaicin, phenytoin or capsaicin/phenytoin. Nitric oxide decreased by capsaicin or capsaicin/phenytoin. GSH and PON-1 activity increased after capsaicin, phenytoin or capsaicin/phenytoin. Mean total seizure score decreased by 48.8% and 66.3% by capsaicin compared with 78.7% for phenytoin and 69.8% for capsaicin/phenytoin treatment. Only phenytoin increased the latency (115.7%) and threshold dose of PTZ (78.3%). Capsaicin did not decrease the anti-convulsive effect of phenytoin but prevented the phenytoin-induced increase in latency time and threshold dose. Neuronal damage decreased by phenytoin or capsaicin at 2 mg/kg but almost completely prevented by capsaicin/phenytoin. Thus in this model of status epilepticus, capsaicin decreased brain oxidative stress, the severity of seizures and neuronal injury and its co-administration with phenytoin afforded neuronal protection.

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None. This work was not supported by research grants.

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Correspondence to Omar M. E. Abdel-Salam.

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All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. The experiments were conducted in accordance with the ethical guidelines for care, use and handling laboratory animals by the Ethics Committee of the NRC and followed the recommendations of the National Institutes of Health Guide for Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (Publication No. 85-23, revised 1985).

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Abdel-Salam, O.M.E., Sleem, A.A., Sayed, M.A.E.B.M. et al. Capsaicin Exerts Anti-convulsant and Neuroprotective Effects in Pentylenetetrazole-Induced Seizures. Neurochem Res (2020).

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  • Capsaicin
  • TRPV1
  • Pentylenetetrazol
  • Phenytoin
  • Seizures
  • Kindling
  • Status epilepticus