An unexpected role of inhibitory activity in promoting epilepsy is reported in a study in this week's Nature Medicine. The work points to new potential targets for the treatment of certain types of seizures.
Epileptic activity in the brain is commonly believed to be the result of reduced inhibitory activity and increased neuronal excitation. David Cope and his colleagues show that inhibitory activity is actually increased in mouse and rat forms of epilepsy known as absence seizures ― usually characterized by a lack of movement and sufferers 'staring into space'.
The team found that the increased inhibition is due to a reduction in the uptake of GABA ― the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the nervous system. The team also found that the selective activation of GABA receptors was sufficient to elicit absence seizures in mice and rats.
These results disclose an unexpected mechanism that may have importance in human epilepsy and point to novel potential targets for the treatment of absence seizures.