Neurons’ response to seizure-induced stress reduces seizure severity

In response to seizures, the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), a network of flattened tubes in the cell that packages and transports proteins, triggers a stress response that reduces brain activity and seizure severity. The new findings, reported by Nien-Pei Tsai and colleagues at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on 26th September in PLOS Genetics, may have important implications for the development of new epilepsy therapies.

For one-third of epilepsy patients, existing anti-epileptic drugs don’t effectively prevent the uncontrolled electrical disturbances in the brain that causes a seizure. Scientists hope to develop more effective therapies through a better understanding of what occurs during a seizure at a molecular level inside neurons, such as within the ER. Seizures are known to cause a stress response in the ER that can be severe enough to cause cell death, but until the current study, no one knew if the stress response had any positive effects on brain activity. Using a mouse model where they could monitor electrical signals in the brain, the researchers induced seizures and looked for downstream effects of the ER stress response. They discovered that the early part of the ER stress response triggers a signaling pathway that reduces brain activity through the production of certain protective proteins.

Full story at Science Daily

Suicide rate is 22% higher among people with epilepsy than the general population

The suicide rate among people with epilepsy is 22 percent higher than the general population, according to a new study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), published in Epilepsy & Behavior.

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. As recent research suggested that epilepsy, psychiatric disorders and suicide might be linked, CDC researchers used data from the 2003-2011 U.S. National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS), a large multiple-state surveillance system that collects information on violent deaths including suicide, to find out how often and in which conditions suicide occurs among epilepsy patients. The resulting report is the first state-based study in the United States to examine the suicide rate and suicide risk factors among people with epilepsy.

Between 2003 and 2011, an average of 17 out of 100,000 people with epilepsy, aged 10 years and older, died from suicide each year, compared to 14 out of 100,000 in the general population. Among adults aged 40-49 years, those with epilepsy died more often from suicide (29 percent) than those without epilepsy (22 percent).

Full story of suicide rates among epilepsy population at Science Daily