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Brain study may lead to improved epilepsy treatments
Date:4/14/2008

Using a rodent model of epilepsy, researchers found one of the bodys own neurotransmitters released during seizures, glutamate, turns on a signaling pathway in the brain that increases production of a protein that could reduce medication entry into the brain. Researchers say this may explain why approximately 30 percent of patients with epilepsy do not respond to antiepileptic medications. The study, conducted by researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institutes of Health, and the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy and Medical School, in collaboration with Heidrun Potschkas laboratory at Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich, Germany, is available online and will appear in the May 2008, issue of Molecular Pharmacology.

Our work identifies the mechanism by which seizures increase production of a drug transport protein in the blood brain barrier, known as P-glycoprotein, and suggests new therapeutic targets that could reduce resistance, said David Miller, Ph.D., a principal investigator in the NIEHS Laboratory of Pharmacology and co-author on the paper.

The blood-brain barrier (BBB), which resides in brain capillaries, is a limiting factor in treatment of many central nervous system disorders. It is altered in epilepsy so that it no longer permits free passage of administered antiepileptic drugs into the brain. Miller explained that P-glycoprotein forms a functional barrier in the BBB that protects the brain by limiting access of foreign chemicals.

The problem is that the protein does not distinguish well between neurotoxicants and therapeutic drugs, so it can often be an obstacle to the treatment of a number of diseases, including brain cancer, Miller said. Increased levels of P-glycoprotein in the BBB has been suggested as one probable cause of drug resistance in epilepsy.

Using isolated brain capillaries from mice and rats and an animal model o
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Contact: Robin Mackar
rmackar@niehs.nih.gov
919-541-0073
NIH/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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