Non-invasive, neurotoxic surgery reduces seizures in a rat model of temporal lobe epilepsy

Yanrong Zhang, Paul S. Buckmaster, Lexuan Qiu, Jing Wang, Olivier Keunen, Sara Natasha Ghobadi, Ai Huang, Qingyi Hou, Ningrui Li, Shivek Narang, Frezghi G. Habte, Edward H. Bertram, Kevin S. Lee, Max Wintermark*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Surgery can be highly effective for treating certain cases of drug resistant epilepsy. The current study tested a novel, non-invasive, surgical strategy for treating seizures in a rat model of temporal lobe epilepsy. The surgical approach uses magnetic resonance-guided, low-intensity focused ultrasound (MRgFUS) in combination with intravenous microbubbles to open the blood-brain barrier (BBB) in a transient and focal manner. During the period of BBB opening, a systemically administered neurotoxin (Quinolinic Acid: QA) that is normally impermeable to the BBB gains access to a targeted area in the brain, destroying neurons where the BBB has been opened. This strategy is termed Precise Intracerebral Non-invasive Guided Surgery (PING). Spontaneous recurrent seizures induced by pilocarpine were monitored behaviorally prior to and after PING or under control conditions. Seizure frequency in untreated animals or animals treated with MRgFUS without QA exhibited expected seizure rate fluctuations frequencies between the monitoring periods. In contrast, animals treated with PING targeting the intermediate-temporal aspect of the hippocampus exhibited substantial reductions in seizure frequency, with convulsive seizures being eliminated entirely in two animals. These findings suggest that PING could provide a useful alternative to invasive surgical interventions for treating drug resistant epilepsy, and perhaps for treating other neurological disorders in which aberrant neural circuitries play a role.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113761
Pages (from-to)113761
JournalExperimental Neurology
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


  • Epilepsy surgery
  • Focused ultrasound
  • Magnetic resonance-guided
  • Neuronal loss
  • Non-invasive
  • Quinolinic acid


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