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Epilepsia. 2011 Sep;52(9):1532-43. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2011.03128.x. Epub 2011 Jun 10.

GABAergic depolarization during early cortical development and implications for anticonvulsive therapy in neonates.

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  • 1Hans Berger Department of Neurology, Jena University Hospital, Jena, Germany. knut.kirmse@med.uni-jena.de


Epileptic seizures rank among the most frequent neurologic symptoms during the neonatal period. Accumulating data from experimental animal studies and clinical trials in humans suggest that neonatal seizures could adversely affect normal brain development and result in long-term neurologic sequelae. Unfortunately, currently used anticonvulsive drugs are often ineffective in the neonatal period. One particularity of the immature neuronal network during neonatal development is that the neurotransmitter γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is mainly depolarizing, rather than hyperpolarizing as commonly observed in adults. This might, in part, explain not only the higher seizure propensity of the immature neuronal network, but also the limited anticonvulsive efficacy of GABA-enhancing drugs during early postnatal life. Accordingly, pharmacologic attenuation of GABAergic depolarization has been proposed as a strategy for neonatal seizure control. However, the underlying conjecture of a depolarizing mode of GABA action has been seriously challenged recently. In the present review, we will summarize the state of knowledge regarding GABAergic depolarization in early life and discuss how these data might impact a currently tested anticonvulsive strategy.

Wiley Periodicals, Inc. © 2011 International League Against Epilepsy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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