Epilepsy can reduce the generation of new neurons

18 May 2015

A novel study has found that epilepsy is capable of reducing the amount of new neurons that are generated in the brain's hippocampus.

As one of the main regions of the brain, it is responsible for producing neural stem cells, which help deal with certain types of learning and responses to anxiety and stress. 

Using an epilepsy model, a team of researchers found that hippocampal neural stem cells stop generating new neurons and are turned into reactive astrocytes, which promote inflammation and alters communication between neurons.

This has confirmed the hypothesis that even though neuronal hyperexcitation does actually cause convulsions, it does trigger the massive activation of neural stem cells and their resulting premature exhaustion. This means the generation of new neurons is chronically reduced.

Juan Manuel Encinas, lead author of the study, said the discovery has allowed them to gain a better understanding of how neural stem cells function.

"We have shown that in addition to generating neurons and astrocytes, neural stem cells in the adult hippocampus can generate reactive astrocytes following an epileptic seizure," he said.

Posted by Edward Bartel

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