Astrocyte Dysfunction in Epilepsy

Christian Steinhäuser and Gerald Seifert

in Jasper's Basic Mechanisms of the Epilepsies

Fourth edition

Published on behalf of ©Jeffrey L. Noebels, Massimo Avoli, Michael A. Rogawski, Richard W. Olsen, and Antonio V. Delgado-Escueta

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199746545
Published online April 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199322817 | DOI:

Series: Contemporary Neurology Series

Astrocyte Dysfunction in Epilepsy

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The novel view of astrocytes as communication partners of neurons rather than “brain glue” has rekindled the question regarding the role of these cells in neurological disorders such as epilepsy. Indeed, an increasing body of evidence has documented astroglial dysfunction, and even dysregulation of astroglia-specific functions, in human and experimental epilepsy. This particularly concerns impaired uptake/conversion of glutamate and removal/redistribution of K+, as observed in MTLE-HS. However, a number of key questions need to be addressed before a unifying picture can be proposed. For example, it is still unclear whether the reported glial alterations are a cause or a consequence of the condition. In addition, difficulties arise from the fact that the term astrocyte covers a heterogeneous group of cells, and this complicates comparison of individual studies. It is worthwhile, however, to emphasize that the molecular, functional, and structural characterization of astroglial heterogeneity is a rapidly evolving field that may soon lead to a better definition of astroglial subtypes. In a comprehensive approach that uses modern molecular genetics and in vivo models, we may now have the opportunity to clarify the specific roles of astroglia in epilepsy and to develop novel therapeutic approaches to fight this disorder.

Chapter.  7284 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neurology

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