Crucial Role for Astrocytes in Epilepsy

Crucial Role for Astrocytes in Epilepsy

Peter Bedner, Christian Steinhauser
ISBN: 9781615047147 | PDF ISBN: 9781615047154
Copyright © 2015 | 91 Pages | Publication Date: August, 2015

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This book summarizes current evidence of astrocyte dysfunction in epilepsy and discusses presumed underlying mechanisms. Epilepsy is characterized by the periodic occurrence of seizures. Currently available anticonvulsant drugs and therapies are insufficient to controlling seizures in about one third of patients. Thus, there is an urgent need for new therapies that prevent generation of the disorder and improve seizure control in individuals already afflicted. The vast majority of epileptic cases are of idiopathic origin with their underlying mechanisms being unclear. Neurosurgical specimens from patients presenting with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE) demonstrate marked reactive gliosis. Since recent studies have implicated astrocytes in important physiological roles in the CNS, such as synchronization of neuronal firing, it is plausible that they may also have a role in seizure generation and/or seizure spread. In support of this view, various membrane channels, receptors, and transporters in astrocytic membranes are altered in the epileptic brain. Excitingly, recent evidence suggests that in the course of the pathogenesis of MTLE, these glial changes alter homeostatic network functions and temporally precede the alterations in neurons. These findings might eventually classify MTLE as a glial rather than a neuronal disorder, and identify astrocytes as promising new targets for the development of more specific antiepileptogenic therapeutic strategies. Although research on astrocytes in epilepsy is still in its infancy, this book clearly demonstrates a critical role of astrocytes in the disturbance of K+ and transmitter homeostasis and its impact on seizure generation.

Table of Contents

K+ Buffering in Epilepsy
GJ Communication in Epilepsy
Aquaporin-4 Dysfunction and Epilepsy
Altered Glutamate Homeostasis in Epilepsy
Dysfunction of the BBB in Epilepsy
Astrocyte Ca2+ Signaling and Gliotransmission in Epilepsy
Adenosine Dysfunction in Epilepsy
Astrocyte Immune Responses and Epilepsy
Astrocytes and Absence Epilepsy
Author Biographies

About the Author(s)

Peter Bedner, Institute of Cellular Neurosciences, University of Bonn, Germany
Peter Bedner studied biology at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universitat in Bonn. He received a Ph.D. at the Institute of Genetics, Univerity of Bonn, on the functional analysis of the permeability of gap junction channels for second messengers. Subsequently he spent one year in the Calcium Signals Lab at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore where he worked on the cell type-specificity of intracellular distribution and diffusion of calmodulin. Since 2006 he is a post-doctoral fellow at the Institute of Cellular Neurosciences, University of Bonn. His main field of research is the analysis of the impact of glial cells on signal processing in the healthy and diseased brain.

Christian Steinhauser, Institute of Cellular Neurosciences, University of Bonn, Germany
Christian Steinhauser studied physics at the Friedrich-Schiller Universitat in Jena. He received a Ph.D. at the Institute for Neurobiology and Brain Research, Academy of Sciences, Magdeburg and the Faculty of Biology, University of Jena on the functional analysis of Na+ channels in pyramidal neurons freshly isolated from the hippocampus. After habilitation in physiology at University of Jena, in 1997 he moved to Bonn as a professor for Experimental Neurobiology at the Medical Faculty of the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universitat. In 2007, he founded the Institute of Cellular Neurosciences at University of Bonn that he chairs since. He employs molecular, electrophysiological, and imaging techniques to investigate the role of glial cells in information processing in the normal and epileptic brain.

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