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Peptides. 2007 Feb;28(2):377-83. Epub 2006 Dec 28.

Gene therapy in epilepsy: the focus on NPY.

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Department of Neuroscience, Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research, Via Eritrea 62, 20157 Milano, Italy.


Gene therapy represents an innovative and promising alternative for the treatment of epileptic patients who are resistant to conventional antiepileptic drugs. Among the various approaches for the application of gene therapy in the treatment of CNS disorders, recombinant viral vectors have been most widely used so far. Several gene targets could be used to correct the compromized balance between inhibitory and excitatory transmission in epilepsy. Transduction of neuropeptide genes such as galanin and neuropeptide Y (NPY) in specific brain areas in experimental models of seizures resulted in significant anticonvulsant effects. In particular, the long-lasting NPY over-expression obtained in the rat hippocampus using intracerebral application of recombinant adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors reduced the generalization of seizures from their site of onset, delayed acquisition of fully kindled seizures and afforded neuroprotection. These results establish a proof-of-principle for the applicability of AAV-NPY vectors for the inhibition of seizures in epilepsy. Additional investigations are required to demonstrate a therapeutic role of gene therapy in chronic models of seizures and to address in more detail safety concerns and possible side-effects.

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