In the present study, licofelone, a dual inhibitor of COX and 5-LOX receptors, and esculetin, a 5-LOX inhibitor, were studied in two experimental models of epilepsy. Both licofelone and esculetin decreased the seizure activity in penicillin-induced epilepsy, while licofelone was more effective in preventing PTZ-induced seizure activity.
Previous studies revealed that metabolized arachidonic acid has an important role in epilepsy and the inflammation process. Arachidonic acid causes some alterations resulting production of inflammatory mediators on microglia, astrocytes, and brain capillary endothelial cells. Inflammation is an essential condition in epileptic mechanisms, both in terms of being the primary mechanism involved in forming epilepsy and further triggering current seizures. There are many studies in the literature, but these studies include conflicting results.
Results of the present study showed that both licofelone and esculetin decreased the spike frequency and amplitude of the seizure activity in the penicillin model. Both of them showed anticonvulsant activity with similar results in the acute model of epilepsy. In our previous studies, aceclofenac (10 and 20 mg/kg) and aspirin (150 and 500 mg/kg), COX-2 inhibitors, have conflicting results in the penicillin-induced epilepsy model. While aspirin has protective effects at low and high doses, aceclofenac used for rheumatoid arthritis in the clinic has proconvulsant effects (Tasdemir et al., 2018; Taskiran et al., 2017). Previous studies revealed that pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α might affect seizure activity through glutamatergic, GABAergic, and NMDA receptors (Młodzikowska-Albrecht et al., 2007; Roseti et al., 2015; Viviani et al., 2003). TNF-α is the most critical cytokine in the acute phase response to inflammation (Varela et al., 2018). Moreover, TNF-α exhibits a dual role in the pathophysiology of seizures, exerting pro-convulsive effects through TNF receptor 1 (TNFR1) and anti-convulsive effects via TNF receptor 2 (TNFR2) (Balosso et al., 2013). This may explain the conflicting results between the early stage (acute effect) inflammation and epilepsy.
There are not enough studies conducted with acute models and inflammation. Related studies showed that these conflicting results might be due to the ligand type, dosage, used epilepsy model, activated inflammatory regulators, the complexity of the inflammatory process, and the time of occurrence. In the present study, promising results were gained with ECoG recordings and behavioral observations in the PTZ-induced epilepsy model. Especially, licofelone appears to have more effects that are protective in the chronic model in terms of all parameters. As mentioned in the results section, licofelone decreased the seizure severity and total spike count while increasing the number of needed injections for kindling and time for FMJ. It is suggested that licofelone has anticonvulsant activity with all these parameters and is worth investigating with advanced studies. Compatible with our results, licofelone was examined in different experimental epilepsy models. In another study, licofelone has anticonvulsant activity at 10 mg/kg and above in mice in a PTZ-induced model (Payandemehr et al., 2015). Another study demonstrated that 10 mg/kg licofelone had similar activity in the Lithium-pilocarpine model (Eslami et al., 2016). However, while the two studies were compatible with our study, it was observed that not all of them had an altogether terminating seizure activity. There are also compatible studies with other COX inhibitors in the literature. Akula et al. reported that rofecoxib (2 and 4 mg/kg) increased the seizure activity threshold but not at 1 mg/kg in PTZ-induced epilepsy (Akula et al., 2008). Another study showed that 2 mg/kg celecoxib has protective effects against PTZ induced seizures (Oliveira et al., 2008). Dhir et al. found that nimesulide (2.5 mg/kg) and rofecoxib (2 mg/kg) increased the mean onset time of convulsions, decreased the duration of clonus, and decreased the mortality rate in bicuculline and picrotoxin-induced convulsions in mice while not in 1 mg/kg nimesulide and rofecoxib. On the other hand, these inhibitors did not affect the seizure activity in maximal electroshock-induced seizures (Dhir et al., 2006). Administration of PTZ may affect the brain-blood barrier (BBB), leading to the structure's disruption (Cacheaux et al., 2009). With this breakdown, especially in the PTZ-induced model, TGF-β, an inflammatory regulator, may have a key role in epileptogenesis.
Conflicting results with COX-2 inhibitors that act as a proconvulsant are confusing in epilepsy. Pretreatment with nimesulide augmented seizures and increased the mortality rate from approximately 10–69% (Kunz and Oliw, 2001). In the temporal lobe epilepsy of pilocarpine, parecoxib (10 mg/kg), a COX-2 inhibitor, has been found to cause neuronal damage in both the hippocampus and the piriform cortex (Polascheck et al., 2010). The opposite results can be seen by changing the injection time in the same study. Kunz and Olive examined pre-treatment and post-treatment of nimesulide (10 mg/kg) in the kainic acid-induced seizure. They found that nimesulide after the kainic acid had better effects on seizures compared to the pre-treatment of nimesulide (Kunz and Oliw, 2001).
The other group in the present study was the 5-LOX inhibitor, esculetin. According to the obtained data, the effects of esculetin were seen in ECoG activity. In behavioral parameters, the results were not statistically significant. However, esculetin exhibited anticonvulsant activity in this study. In the literature, studies with both esculetin and other 5-LOX inhibitors are very limited. In these studies, 5-LOX inhibitors were not effective in controlling seizures. However, 5-LOX inhibitors have protective effects when administered in combination with other COX inhibitors. Kim et al. examined the combined effects of COX inhibitor (aspirin) and 5-LOX inhibitors (NS-398 and esculetin) in a kainic acid-induced seizure model. They found that aspirin given with 5-LOX inhibitors has protective effects against neurotoxicity after the injection of kainic acid, but not given alone (Kim et al., 2008). In another study, Acetyl-11-Keto-β-Boswellic Acid (AKBA), a 5-LOX inhibitor, were not effective in kainic acid-induced seizure. When AKBA combined with other COX inhibitors, it increased the seizure latency (Bishnoi et al., 2007). Although esculetin was administered alone in our study, we think that the main effect of co-administered COX and 5-LOX inhibitors shows affinity to the COX pathway.