Spared cognitive and behavioral functions prior to epilepsy onset in a rat model of subcortical band heteropia


• Subcortical band heterotopia (SBH) does not impair motor functions and somatosensory processing in pre-epileptic rats.
• Learning and memory are normal in rats with SBH before seizure onset.
• Our data suggest that the SBH presence is not sufficient to impair behavioral functions.


Subcortical band heterotopia (SBH), also known as doublecortex syndrome, is a malformation of cortical development resulting from mutations in the doublecortin gene (DCX). It is characterized by a lack of migration of cortical neurons that accumulate in the white matter forming a heterotopic band. Patients with SBH may present mild to moderate intellectual disability as well as epilepsy. The SBH condition can be modeled in rats by in utero knockdown (KD) of Dcx. The affected cells form an SBH reminiscent of that observed in human patients and the animals develop a chronic epileptic condition in adulthood. Here, we investigated if the presence of an SBH is sufficient to induce cognitive impairment in juvenile Dcx-KD rats, before the onset of epilepsy. Using a wide range of behavioral tests, we found that the presence of SBH did not appear to affect motor control or somatosensory processing. In addition, cognitive abilities such as learning, short-term and long-term memory, were normal in pre-epileptic Dcx-KD rats. We suggest that the SBH presence is not sufficient to impair these behavioral functions.


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