Development of epilepsy decoded

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Impaired transport proteins trigger epilepsy

Researchers at the Institute for Cell and Neurobiology at the Berlin Charité have decoded the development of epilepsy in the brain. Accordingly, the chronic disease of the central nervous system (CNS) is significantly influenced by the impaired function of certain cellular ion transporters.

In the course of their investigations, the scientists around the private lecturer Dr. Rudolf A. Deisz from the Institute of Cell and Neurobiology for the first time identify one of the causative molecular mechanisms in human tissue for the development of epilepsy. As part of the publication of their study results in the journal "The Journal of Physiology" (JP), the researchers state that they have succeeded in decoding the special disorders of the nerve cells that are involved in the development of focal, therapy-resistant epilepsy. Accordingly, the reduction of special cellular transport proteins plays an essential role.

Decrease in certain transport proteins causes epilepsy According to the research team led by Dr. Rudolf Deisz causes the reduction of so-called cellular ion transporters in the origin zone of the seizure, the occurrence of epilepsy. Special forms of these transport proteins are impaired in their function and thus cause chloride ions to be mis-distributed to the nerve cells, the scientists explain. In this way, the correct signal transmission is disrupted by the inhibitory transmitter GABA in the central nervous system. The misdistribution of chloride ions is therefore the basis of increased nerve cell activity, since it has a significant influence on the effectiveness of the inhibitory GABA effect. This overexcitability of the nerve cells means that initially small cell groups increasingly transmit impulses that are too large. As a result, larger nerve cell groups are stimulated at the same time and a real firework of impulses begins, which manifests itself as an epileptic seizure. According to the experts, about one percent of the population in Germany suffers from epilepsy.

New Approach to the Development of Epilepsy Drugs From previous studies it was already known that the GABA receptors can have a significant influence on the development of epilepsy, not least because these receptors account for around 30 percent of the amount of transmitters in the central nervous system. However, researchers worldwide have previously assumed that a defect directly at the GABA receptors is responsible for the impaired signal transmission. As part of their current investigation, the scientists led by Dr. Deisz from the Institute for Cell and Neurobiology at the Charité in Berlin has now refuted this theory of epilepsy. The researchers say that certain cellular ion transporters are responsible, which in turn influence the function of the GABA receptors. According to Dr. This may also explain Deisz and colleagues why the prescribed epilepsy medication has so far failed in many sufferers. "Our results not only show a decisive, causal disorder (of the transport proteins) in epilepsy", but also provide a reason for the failure of the medication, says the private lecturer Dr. Deisz. In the context of their publication, the researchers were therefore confident that their results "had also found a starting point for the development of more effective drugs for the treatment of epilepsy." (Fp)

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Image: Dieter Schütz /

Author and source information

Video: An Overview of Psychogenic Non Epileptic Seizures PNES


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