Caffeine has been used clinically to increase seizure length in electroconvulsive treatment (ECT). The present study was designed to establish an animal model of caffeine-augmented seizures for further study of mechanisms and effects of pharmacological manipulation of seizure length. Increasing doses of caffeine (0-200 mg/kg, IP) were given before electroconvulsive stimulation (ECS) in rats and resulting seizure lengths were quantified by timing of classical tonic-clonic convulsive movements. With this paradigm, caffeine led to a dose-dependent increase in seizure duration. This proconvulsant action of caffeine was detectable within 1 min after dosing, persisted for at least 230 min and was reversible. The results suggest that seizure length is a practicable measure in pharmacological modification of electroconvulsive seizures. They also suggest that pharmacologically-modified ECS can be modeled effectively in animals.
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