Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Possible Link Between Different Forms Of Epilepsy Discovered

Date:
June 17, 2008
Source:
Carnegie Mellon University
Summary:
Carnegie Mellon neuroscientists have identified what may be the first known common denominator underlying inherited and sporadic epilepsy -- a disruption in an ion channel called the BK channel. Although BK channels have been linked to a rare, familial form of epilepsy, their involvement in other types of seizure disorders has never been demonstrated. These findings indicate that BK channels are a new target for anticonvulsant therapies, offering new hope to individuals suffering from epilepsy.

Carnegie Mellon University neuroscientists have identified what may be the first known common denominator underlying inherited and sporadic epilepsy - a disruption in an ion channel called the BK channel. Although BK channels have been linked to a rare, familial form of epilepsy, their involvement in other types of seizure disorders has never been demonstrated. These findings, published in the June issue of Neurobiology of Disease, indicate that BK channels are a new target for anticonvulsant therapies, and offer new hope to individuals suffering from epilepsy.

The researchers discovered that BK channels become abnormally active after a seizure. This disruption results in the neurons becoming overly excitable, which may be associated with the development of epilepsy. The Carnegie Mellon scientists were able to reverse this abnormal excitability using a BK channel antagonist, which returned the post-seizure electrical activity to normal levels.

"The fact that the BK channel previously has been linked with familial epilepsy and with generalized seizures in subjects without a genetic predisposition points to a common therapeutic pathway. We've shown that BK antagonists can be very effective in normalizing aberrant electrical activity in neurons, which suggests that BK channel antagonists might be a new weapon in the arsenal against epilepsy," said Alison Barth, an assistant professor of biological sciences at Carnegie Mellon's Mellon College of Science.

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder marked by abnormal electrical activity in the brain that leads to recurring seizures. According to the Epilepsy Foundation, no cause can be found in about seven out of 10 people with epilepsy. Researchers, however, have identified a genetic component in some types of epilepsy. This study establishes, for the first time, a shared component between different types of epilepsy.

"Although research has revealed that many types of inherited epilepsy are linked to mutations in different ion channels, there has been little overlap between these ion channels and those channels that are affected by sporadic or acquired forms of epilepsy," Barth said. "BK channels could represent a common pathway activated in familial and sporadic cases of epilepsy."

The BK channel allows electrically charged potassium ions into and out of cells. This activity starts and stops the electrical impulses by which neurons communicate with one another. Barth and her colleagues were specifically interested in investigating BK channels' function following a first seizure. Their in vitro studies revealed that, after a seizure, BK channel function was enhanced - neurons fired quicker, stronger and more spontaneously. This abnormal activity might underlie the transition between a single seizure and the emergence of epilepsy, characterized by recurrent seizures.

"We found that seizures caused cells to become more excitable, and that BK channel antagonists bring everything back to normal. These channels are at a nexus of control and represent a new target for anticonvulsant therapies," Barth said.

It is also possible that BK channel antagonists could be used early, perhaps after an initial seizure, to prevent cellular changes that lead to epilepsy, according to Barth.

Co-authors of the study include Sonal Shruti and Roger L. Clem, graduate students in the Department of Biological Sciences and the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition at Carnegie Mellon. The study was funded by the Sloan Foundation, the Milken Family Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and Carnegie Mellon University.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Carnegie Mellon University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Carnegie Mellon University. "Possible Link Between Different Forms Of Epilepsy Discovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 June 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080616115715.htm>.
Carnegie Mellon University. (2008, June 17). Possible Link Between Different Forms Of Epilepsy Discovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080616115715.htm
Carnegie Mellon University. "Possible Link Between Different Forms Of Epilepsy Discovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080616115715.htm (accessed August 23, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two US Ebola Patients Leave Hospital Free of the Disease

Two US Ebola Patients Leave Hospital Free of the Disease

AFP (Aug. 21, 2014) Two American missionaries who were sickened with Ebola while working in Liberia and were treated with an experimental drug are doing better and have left the hospital, doctors say on August 21, 2014. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) Contains graphic content. He's only 17. But Johntrell Bowles has wanted to be a doctor from a young age, despite the odds against him. He was recently the youngest participant in a cadaver program at the Indiana University NW medical school. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) It's unclear whether the American Ebola patients' recoveries can be attributed to an experimental drug or early detection and good medical care. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins