AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 3, 2018

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Study Finds Possibility of New Ways to Treat, Manage Epilepsy Seizures

New findings from the University of Kentucky demonstrate that there may be ways to address blood-brain barrier dysfunction in epilepsy.

Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders and around one-third of epilepsy patients do not respond well to anti-seizure drugs. Until now, it was believed that the cause and effect of epilepsy was merely based on a dysfunction in the brain’s neurons. However, recent findings suggest that epilepsy can be caused by many other factors, including a dysfunctional blood-brain barrier. Essentially, seizures erode the lining of capillaries in the brain which plays a role in letting nutrients in and keeping toxins out. This can result in a “leaky” blood-brain barrier, which leads to more seizures, resulting in epilepsy progression.

Björn Bauer’s lab at the UK College of Pharmacy collaborated with Sanders-Brown Center on Aging scientists to conduct research focused on this barrier leakage. Bauer and colleagues hypothesized that glutamate, released during seizures, mediates an increase in certain enzymes and activity levels, thereby contributing to barrier leakage.

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