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Epilepsy Res. 2000 Oct;41(3):191-204.

Are some idiopathic epilepsies disorders of ion channels?: A working hypothesis.

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Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, Fukuoka University, 45-1, 7-chome Nanakuma, Jonan-ku, 814-0180, Fukuoka, Japan.


Epilepsy is a common neurological disease and encompasses a variety of disorders with paroxysms. Although there is a genetic component in the pathogenesis of epilepsy, the molecular mechanisms of this syndrome remains poorly understood. Linkage analysis and positional cloning have not been sufficient tools for determining the pathogenic mechanisms of common idiopathic epilepsies, and hence, novel approaches, based on the etiology of epilepsy, are necessary. Recently, many paroxysmal disorders, including, epilepsy, have been considered to be due to ion channel abnormalities or channelopathies. Results of recent studies employing gene analysis in animal models of epilepsy and human familial epilepsies support the hypothesis that at least some of the so called idiopathic epilepsies, i.e. epilepsies currently, classified as idiopathic could be considered as a channelopathy. This hypothesis is consistent with the putative prerequisites for genes responsible for the majority of idiopathic epilepsies that can adequately explain the following characteristics of epilepsy. Neuronal hyperexcitability, dominant inheritance with various penetrance, pharmacological role of some conventional antiepileptic drugs, age dependency in the onset of epilepsy, and the involvement of genetic factors in the pathogenesis of post-traumatic epilepsy. Search for mutations in ion channels expressed in the central nervous system may help in finding defects underlying some of idiopathic epilepsies, thereby enhancing, our understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of epilepsy. A working hypothesis to view certain idiopathic epilepsies as disorders of ion channels should provide a new insight to our understanding of epilepsy and allow the design of novel therapies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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