Background: Epilepsy is a chronic disorder of the brain. Globally, an estimated 2.4 million people are diagnosed with epilepsy each year. Recent studies have shown that 70% of epileptic patients can be successfully treated with anti-epileptic drugs. Unfortunately, 30% of the patients still suffer from intractable epilepsy, a problem that represents a difficult scientific challenge. Crucial genetic research and high throughput drug screening are combined together to search for treatment for refractory seizures.
Goals. Development of new animal models amenable to genetic manipulation and drug screening, e.g. the zebrafish (Danio rerio), is an important goal and represents a promising step. In this review, we summarize general aspects of epilepsy and the advances through history, and emphasize the importance of the zebrafish as an animal model representing new research strategies leading to proper treatment of human epilepsy. We also describe the advances in research using both the larvae and adult zebrafish, and discuss the barriers which zebrafish must overcome to become a better animal model for a variety of neurological disorders, including epileptic seizures and epilepsy.
Conclusion. Even though zebrafish larvae seem to be more attractive as a tool, adult zebrafish are also very valuable, as they can be used to study the impact of genetic manipulation and drugs on behavioral changes after seizures.