02940: Investigating Neuronal Network Connectivity in Dogs with Idiopathic Epilepsy using Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Grant Status: Open

Grant Amount: $75,840
Karen R. Muñana, DVM, MS; North Carolina State University
May 1, 2021 - April 30, 2025

Sponsor(s): Australian Shepherd Health & Genetics Institute, Curly-Coated Retriever Club of America, German Shorthaired Pointer Club of America, Inc. Irish Setter Club of America Foundation, Irish Setter Club of Milwaukee, Inc, Toby's Foundation

Breed(s): -All Dogs
Research Program Area: Epilepsy Initiative
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One Health: Yes


Idiopathic epilepsy is the most common chronic neurological disorder of dogs, for which the cause remains poorly understood, and the standard of care is limited to symptomatic treatment with anti-seizure drugs. Outcomes are frequently unsuccessful, underscoring the critical need to better understand the underlying physiology responsible for seizures in dogs with idiopathic epilepsy, if more effective management is to be achieved. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is a noninvasive technique to evaluate brain activity that measures small changes in blood flow associated with increased energy demand. Resting state fMRI (rs-fMRI) detects spontaneous fluctuations in the brain's blood flow that are analyzed for synchrony, to identify anatomically distinct but functionally connected regions of the brain, called resting state networks (RSNs). Alterations in RSNs have been documented in humans with epilepsy, and specific changes associated with disease progression, severity, and treatment response. Hence, rs-fMRI has emerged as a powerful tool for investigating the underlying cause of epilepsy in humans and holds similar promise in the study of epilepsy in dogs. The aim of this study is to evaluate RSNs in dogs with idiopathic epilepsy using rs-fMRI. Investigators hypothesize that dogs with idiopathic epilepsy have alterations in the functional connectivity of the brain compared to neurologically normal dogs. Ten epileptic dogs that are not receiving any anti-seizure medications and ten neurologically normal dogs will undergo fMRI and image analysis to identify and compare RSNs. Results from this study will provide novel insight into the brain function of epileptic dogs, to further our understanding of epilepsy and potentially lead to more effective management strategies.

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