Brain - A Journal of Neurology

Astrocyte uncoupling as a cause of human temporal lobe epilepsy

Peter Bedner, Alexander Dupper, Kerstin Huttmann, Julia Muller, Michel K. Herde, Pavel Dublin, Tushar Deshpande, Johannes Schramm, Ute Haussler, Carola A. Haas, Christian Henneberger, Martin Theis and Christian Steinhauser

Brain (2015) 138 (5): 1208-1222 First published online: 12 March 2015

Astrogliosis (marked by hypertrophy of astrocytes and upregulation of astrocyte-specific markers) has been suggested to be proconvulsive in temporal lobe epilepsy. In this study, the authors show that there is loss of gap junction coupling between astrocytes in tissue resected from people with epilepsy with hippocampal sclerosis; this could underlie improper buffering of K+ ions. A loss of gap junction coupling between astrocytes was not noticed in tissue of patients who had epilepsy without hippocampal sclerosis. Using an animal model of epilepsy, the authors also show that astrocytic uncoupling is a fairly early process in epileptogenesis. Hence, one can hypothesize that halting astrocytic uncoupling after an initiating event could stop epileptogenesis; which is very exciting because at present, there is no such therapy that stops epileptogenesis in its tracks.


Summary for non-specialists