Navigation Links
UCI, French researchers find master switch for adult epilepsy

Irvine, Calif., June 27, 2011 UC Irvine and French researchers have identified a central switch responsible for the transformation of healthy brain cells into epileptic ones, opening the way to both treat and prevent temporal lobe epilepsy.

Epilepsy affects 1 to 2 percent of the world's population, and TLE is the most common form of the disorder in adults. Among adult neurologic conditions, only migraine headaches are more prevalent. TLE is resistant to treatment in 30 percent of cases.

UCI neurologist and neuroscientist Dr. Tallie Z. Baram and her colleagues found that TLE manifests after a major reorganization of the molecules governing the behavior of neurons, the cells that communicate within the brain. These alterations often stem from prolonged febrile seizures, brain infections or trauma.

"This discovery marks a dramatic change in our understanding of how TLE comes about. Previously, it was believed that neurons died after damaging events and that the remaining neurons reorganized with abnormal connections," said Baram, the Danette Shepard Chair in Neurological Studies. "However, in both people and model animals, epilepsy can arise without the apparent death of brain cells. The neurons simply seem to behave in a very abnormal way."

To learn why, Baram's UCI team collaborated with a French group led by Christophe Bernard of the University of Marseille and Inserm. They focused on ion channels, molecules that straddle the boundaries of brain cells and govern how they fire and communicate among themselves.

Specifically, they explored an ion channel called HCN1 which is suppressed in response to brain seizures, injuries and infections that lead to epilepsy hoping to find the long-sought mechanism that triggers epileptic activity in previously normal brain cells.

In their study, which appears online in the Annals of Neurology, the researchers reveal that mechanism: The HCN1 channel gene and about three dozen other important genes are altered by a major cellular repressor called NRSF, which increases after events that give rise to epilepsy.

NRSF proteins work by attaching to the DNA of selected genes and shutting them down, causing neurons to fire abnormally and promoting the development of epilepsy. This was discovered when Baram and her colleagues prevented NRSF from linking to HCN1 and other NRSF-regulated genes, the development of epilepsy was markedly lessened.

This NRSF binding process is an example of epigenetics enduring changes to gene expression without changes to the DNA sequence. Baram said the study is the first to show the significance of epigenetic mechanisms in the formation of epilepsy. The findings also point to NRSF having a larger role in influencing brain activity.

"NRSF operates like a master switch on many genes affecting neuron function," said Shawn McClelland, UCI researcher and study co-author. "And if its levels increase, it can provoke changes lasting for years."

"We're quite excited about this discovery," Baram said. "Understanding how previous brain infections, seizures or injuries can interact with the cellular machinery to cause epilepsy is a crucial step toward designing drugs to prevent the process. We don't want to just treat people with epilepsy. We hope to develop medicines that will prevent epilepsy from occurring and influence the lives of millions of people around the globe."

The founder of UCI's Epilepsy Research Center, Baram is considered the world's leading investigator of the basic neural mechanisms involved in childhood febrile seizures those caused by high fever and how prolonged febrile seizures might lead to the onset of TLE.


Contact: Tom Vasich
University of California - Irvine

Related biology news :

1. French scientist wins the Journal of Experimental Biology Outstanding Paper Prize
2. French Authorities Give Sole Approval to GMAT Exam to Collect Biometric Data to Advance Security
3. French scientist wins the Journal of Experimental Biology Outstanding Paper Prize 2009
4. French and Spanish researchers develop a natural alternative to antibiotics in animal feed
5. Road salt and cars produce extreme water contamination in Frenchmans Bay, UTSC research reveals
6. French national research agency funds PREDIMOL project
7. Springer and the French National Institute for Agricultural Research INRA team up
8. First French bulldog with sex reversal identified in Spain
9. NC State researchers get to root of parasite genome
10. Researchers find animal with ability to survive climate change
11. Researchers find an essential gene for forming ears of corn
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/22/2016)... -- On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ... for the Biometric Exit Program. The Request for Information ... explains that CBP intends to add biometrics to confirm ... States , in order to deter visa overstays, ... Logo - ...
(Date:6/15/2016)... New York , June 15, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... a new market report titled "Gesture Recognition Market by ... and Forecast, 2016 - 2024". According to the report, ... USD 11.60 billion in 2015 and is estimated ... reach USD 48.56 billion by 2024.  ...
(Date:6/3/2016)... 3, 2016 Das ... Nepal hat ein 44 ... geprägter Kennzeichen, einschließlich Personalisierung, Registrierung und IT-Infrastruktur, ... Produktion und Implementierung von Identitätsmanagementlösungen. Zahlreiche renommierte ... Januar teilgenommen, aber Decatur wurde als konformste ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... Prairie, WI (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 ... ... consultancy focused on quality, regulatory and technical consulting, provides a free webinar ... is presented on July 13, 2016 at 12pm CT at no charge. , ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 22, 2016  Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN ) ... QB3@953 life sciences incubator to accelerate the development ... laboratory space at QB3@953 was created to help high-potential ... for many early stage organizations - access to laboratory ... Amgen launched two "Amgen Golden Ticket" awards, providing each ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... , June 22, 2016 Cell ... will allow them to produce up to one ... one lot within one week. These high-quality, consistent ... laboriously preparing cells and spend more time doing ... through a proprietary, high-volume manufacturing process that produces ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... YORK , June 22, 2016  According ... growing next generation sequencing (NGS) market include significant ... of smaller sequencers.  More accessible and affordable sequencers, ... to growing demand for consumables including sample prep ... The Market for Sample Preparation for Next Generation ...
Breaking Biology Technology: