Scientists have discovered the first direct evidence that a biological mechanism long suspected in epilepsy is capable of triggering brain seizures – opening the door for studies to seek improved treatments or even preventative therapies.
Researchers at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center report in Neuron that molecular disruptions in small neurons called dentate gyrus granule cells (DGCs) caused brain seizures in mice similar to those seen in human temporal lobe epilepsy. Temporal lobe epilepsy is one of the most common forms of the disorder.
“Epilepsy is one of those rare disorders where we have no real preventative therapies, and current treatments after diagnosis can have significant side effects,” says Steven Danzer, PhD, principal investigator on the study and a neuroscientist in the Department of Anesthesia at Cincinnati Children’s. “Establishing which cells and mechanisms are responsible for the seizures allows us to begin working on ways to control or eliminate the problem therapeutically, and in a more precise manner.”
The presence of abnormal DGCs in epilepsy has been observed for decades, although evidence linking them to seizures was lacking until the current study. Investigators stressed the study involves early research results in mouse models. An extensive amount of additional research is needed before the findings possibly become clinically applicable.