Thinking above the genome: Epigenetic manipulation as a disease-modifying strategy in epilepsy

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Epilepsy is a chronic brain disease characterized by repeated unprovoked seizures. Currently, no drug therapy exists for curing epilepsy or disease modification in people at risk. Despite several emerging mechanisms, there have been few studies of epigenetic signalling in epileptogenesis, the process whereby a normal brain becomes progressively epileptic because of precipitating factors. Here, we report a novel role of histone deacetylation as a critical epigenetic mechanism in epileptogenesis. Experiments were conducted using the histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor sodium butyrate in the hippocampus kindling model of temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), a classic model heavily used to approve drugs for treatment of epilepsy. Daily treatment with butyrate significantly inhibited HDAC activity and retarded the development of limbic epileptogenesis without affecting after-discharge signal. HDAC inhibition markedly impaired the persistence of seizure expression many weeks after epilepsy development. Moreover, subchronic HDAC inhibition for 2 weeks resulted in a striking retardation of epileptogenesis. HDAC inhibition, unexpectedly, also showed erasure of the epileptogenic state in epileptic animals. Finally, butyrate-treated animals exhibited a powerful reduction in mossy fiber sprouting, a morphologic index of epileptogenesis. Together these results underscore that HDAC inhibition prevents the development of TLE, indicating HDAC's critical signalling role in epileptogenesis. These findings, therefore, envisage a unique novel therapy for preventing or curing epilepsy by targeting the epigenetic HDAC pathway.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-256
Number of pages2
JournalEpilepsy Currents
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018

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