First of Its Kind Discoveries Might Help Prevent Epileptic Seizures

Photo by: Jennifer Boyer

At the Florida State University College of Medicine, a team if researchers maintained that an amino acid – an essential component of protein, produced by the brain, is presumed to play an integral part in prevention of a specific type of epileptic seizure.

The study author, Sanjay Kumar, an associate professor in the College of Medicine’s Department of Biomedical Sciences, along with his team, open opportunities with the help of this study towards finding an effective therapeutic treatment options for this disease. Research findings of the study were published on Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.

Source: CDC

Temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) is considered one of the most common type of the “drug-resistant epilepsy” in adults and its disease progression in adults is still unknown. The diseases is manifested by the loss of layer 3 neurons (chemical messengers) in the specific region of brain that underlies seizure development.

Temporal lobe epileptic seizures are considered debilitating, subsequently lead to the lasting damage in patients, including major damage to neuron resulting in neuronal death and loss of neuron function. One of the treatment interventions to prevent the loss of neurons is need for better understanding of the disease mechanism. This type of epilepsy is believed to occur as a result from an injury such as a concussion and other traumatic brain injuries. In the current study, it was shown that the D-serine works efficiently in stopping the secondary effects of such an injury.

Source: The Lancet Neurology

In the study, researchers used a mouse model, thereby investigated a mechanism in the mice brain that is believed responsible for triggering the epileptic seizures. Their research demonstration indicate that a specific amino acid called D-serine is hoped to work in the mechanism that is responsible to prevent the epileptic seizures by preventing the death of neuron and their loss of function respectively. They explained that how the temporal lobe processes the sensory information and thereby creates the memories, how it comprehends language, and controls emotions. To further understand the diseases progression mechanism, research team investigated the receptors, which is crucial for the communication between the neurons,

In the study, researchers discovered for the first time, a receptor, which they named “The FSU receptor” in the entorhinal cortex region of the brain. They hope that this FSU receptor is a potential target for TLE therapy as it helps in communication between the neurons.

According to the results and discussion of the study, it was found that the FSU receptors allow too much calcium to enter neurons and under diseased conditions, the TLE patients experience epileptic seizures as neurons become overstimulated from the excessive influx of Calcium. The plausible explanation of neuron death is the overstimulation and/or hyperexcitability of neurons as a result of excessive Calcium intake, a process known as excitotoxicity. They also found that the amino acid called the D-serine blocks these receptors to prevent excess levels of calcium from reaching neurons, thereby preventing seizure activity and neuronal death.

“The loss of D-serine essentially removes the brakes on these neurons, making them hyperexcitable,” said Sanjay Kumar, an associate professor in the College of Medicine’s Department of Biomedical Sciences.

He further added, “Then, the calcium comes in and causes excitotoxicity, which is the reason why neurons die. So, if we provide the brakes — if we provide D-serine — then you don’t get that loss of neurons.”

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