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 July 29, 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 July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

AP (July 28, 2014) A bipartisan deal to improve veterans health care would authorize at least $15 billion in emergency spending to fix a veterans program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Reuters - US Online Video (July 28, 2014) Two American aid workers in Liberia test positive for Ebola while working to combat the deadliest outbreak of the virus ever. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
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