© 2019 Elsevier Inc. Audiogenic seizure-prone mice can be protected from seizure-associated death by exposure to an oxygen atmosphere or treatment with selective serotonergic reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). We have shown previously in a rat model that epileptic seizure activity can spread through brainstem areas to cause sufficient laryngospasm for obstructive apnea and that the period of seizure-associated obstructive apnea can last long enough for respiratory arrest to occur. We hypothesized that both the oxygen-rich atmosphere and SSRIs function by prolonging the time to respiratory arrest, thus ensuring that seizure activity stops before the point of respiratory arrest to allow recovery of respiratory function. To test this hypothesis, we evaluated each preventative treatment in a rat model of controlled airway occlusion where the times to respiratory arrest can be measured. Adult male Sprague Dawley rats (median age = 66 days) were studied in the absence of any seizure activity. By directly studying responses to controlled airway occlusion, rather than airway occlusion secondary to seizure activity, we could isolate the effects of manipulations that might prolong respiratory arrest from the effects of those manipulations on seizure intensity. All group sizes were ≥ 8 animals per group. We found that both oxygen exposure and fluoxetine significantly increased the time to respiratory arrest by up to 65% (p < .0001 for 5 min oxygen exposure; p = .031 for 25 mg/kg fluoxetine tested 60 min after injection) and, given that neither treatment has been shown to significantly alter seizure duration, these increases can account for the protection of either manipulation against death in sudden death models. Importantly, we found that 30 s of exposure to oxygen produced nearly the same protection as 5 min exposure suggesting that oxygen exposure could start after a seizure starts (p = .0012 for 30 s oxygen exposure). Experiments with 50% oxygen/50% air mixtures indicate that the oxygen concentration needs to be above about 60% to ensure that times to respiratory arrest will always be longer than a period of seizure-induced airway occlusion. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, while instructive with regard to mechanism, require impractical dosing and may carry additional risk in the form of greater challenges for resuscitation. We conclude that oxygen exposure or SSRI treatment prevent seizure associated death by sufficiently prolonging the time to respiratory arrest so that respiratory function can recover after the seizure abates and eliminates the stimulus for seizure-induced apnea.
School of Medicine