Navigation Links
New role for an old molecule: protecting the brain from epileptic seizures

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] For years brain scientists have puzzled over the shadowy role played by the molecule putrescine, which always seems to be present in the brain following an epileptic seizure, but without a clear indication whether it was there to exacerbate brain damage that follows a seizure or protect the brain from it. A new Brown University study unmasks the molecule as squarely on the side of good: It seems to protect against seizures hours later.

Putrescine is one in a family of molecules called "polyamines" that are present throughout the body to mediate crucial functions such as cell division. Why they surge in the brain after seizures isn't understood. In a lengthy set of experiments, Brown neuroscientists meticulously traced their activity in the brains of seizure-laden tadpoles. What they found is that putrescine ultimately converts into the neurotransmitter GABA, which is known to calm brain activity. When they caused a seizure in the tadpoles, they found that the putrescine produced in a first wave of seizures helped tadpoles hold out longer against a second wave of induced seizures.

Carlos Aizenman, assistant professor of neuroscience and senior author of a study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, said further research could ultimately produce a drug that targets the process, potentially helping young children with epilepsy. Tadpoles and toddlers aren't much alike, but this basic aspect of their brain chemistry is.

"Overall, the findings presented in this study may have important therapeutic implications," Aizenman and co-authors wrote. "We describe a novel role for polyamine metabolism that results in a protective effect on seizures induced in developing animals."

Detective work

The result that "priming" the tadpoles with a seizure led to them being 25 percent more resistant to a subsequent seizure four hours later was "puzzling," said Aizenman, who is affiliated with the Brown Institute for Brain Science. It took about a dozen more experiments before his team, led by graduate student Mark Bell, could solve the mystery.

First they hindered polyamine synthesis altogether and found that not only did the protection against seizures disappear, but it also left the tadpoles even more vulnerable to seizures. Then they interrupted the conversion of putrescine into other polyamines and found that this step enhanced the protection, indicating that putrescine was the beneficial member of the family.

Going with those results, they administered putrescine directly to the tadpoles and found that it took 65 percent longer to induce a seizure than in tadpoles that didn't get a dose of putrescine.

Further experiments showed that the protective effect occurs after putrescine is metabolized, with at least one intermediary step, into GABA, and GABA receptors are activated in brain cells.

"Potentially by manipulating this pathway we may be able to harness an ongoing protective effect against seizures," Aizenman said. "However I should caution that this is basic research and it is premature to predict how well this would translate into the clinic."

In the meantime, the research may also help explain a bit more about young brains in general, Aizenman said.

"Our findings may also tell us how normal brains, especially developing brains, may regulate their overall levels of activity and maybe keep a type of regulatory check on brain activity levels," he said.


Contact: David Orenstein
Brown University

Related medicine news :

1. Protecting patients: Study shows that Johns Hopkins flu vaccination rates twice national average
2. Protecting the brain from of a deadly genetic disease
3. Protecting the brain from a deadly genetic disease
4. Strategies increase health-care worker vaccination rates -- protecting patients
5. ASTRO publishes supplement on protecting cancer patients by reducing radiation doses, side effects
6. Protecting Global Travelers with New Security Solutions
7. Smoke-free air laws effective at protecting children from secondhand smoke
8. Beating doctor burnout and protecting patients
9. Preventing GVHD by protecting gut stem cells
10. Gadgets not related to teenagers brain pain
11. Dementia Rates Escalate as Brain Capacity Diminishes with Age
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/25/2016)... California (PRWEB) , ... June 25, 2016 , ... "With ... fit their specific project," said Christina Austin - CEO of Pixel Film Studios. ... customizable and all within Final Cut Pro X . Simply select a ProHand ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... , ... On Friday, June 10, Van Mitchell, Secretary of the Maryland Department ... in recognition of their exemplary accomplishments in worksite health promotion. , The Wellness at ... Wellness Symposium at the BWI Marriott in Linthicum Heights. iHire was one of 42 ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , ... June 24, 2016 , ... June 19, 2016 ... dangers associated with chronic pain and the benefits of holistic treatments, Serenity Recovery ... are suffering with Sickle Cell Disease. , Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a disorder ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Dr. ... accelerated orthodontic treatment. Dr. Cheng has extensive experience with all areas of orthodontics, ... and accelerated osteogenic orthodontics. , Micro-osteoperforation is a revolutionary adjunct to orthodontic ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... EB Medicine presented its ... Emergency Medicine conference in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. The awards honor the outstanding ... Medicine Practice and Pediatric Emergency Medicine Practice. , “With this award, we ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 Bracket , a ... its next generation clinical outcomes platform, Bracket eCOA (SM) ... on June 26 – 30, 2016 in Philadelphia ... electronic Clinical Outcome Assessment product of its kind to fully ... Bracket eCOA 6.0 is a flexible platform for ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Ill. and INDIANAPOLIS , ... students receiving a Lilly Diabetes Tomorrow,s Leaders Scholarship is ... 2016 scholarship winners, announced today online at ... let type 1 diabetes stand in the way of ... has supported the Foundation,s scholarship program since 2012, and ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... -- Revolutionary technology includes multi-speaker listening to ... leaders in advanced audiology and hearing aid technology, has ... the world,s first internet connected hearing aid that opens ...      (Photo: ) , ... firsts,: , TwinLink™ - the first dual ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: