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Brain Res. 2007 Jun 2;1151:55-61. Epub 2007 Mar 13.

Effect of levetiracetam on molecular regulation of hippocampal glutamate and GABA transporters in rats with chronic seizures induced by amygdalar FeCl3 injection.

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Section of Psychiatry, Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Faculty of Medicine, University of Miyazaki, 5200 Kihara, Kiyotake, Miyazaki 889-1692, Japan.


Enhancement of the glutamatergic excitatory synaptic transmission efficacy in the FeCl3 induced epilepsy model is associated with changes in the levels of glutamate and GABA transporter proteins. This study examined the effect of levetiracetam (LEV) on glutamate overflow and glutamate/GABA transporters expression in rats with epileptogenesis induced by the amygdalar injection of 1.0 microl of 100 mM FeCl3 (epileptic rat) and in control rats receiving amygdalar acidic saline injection (non-epileptic rat). In amygdalar acidic saline injected rats, 40 mM KCl-evoked glutamate overflow was significantly suppressed by both 32 and 100 microM LEV co-perfusion. In unilateral amygdalar FeCl3 injected rats, 32 microM LEV was ineffective, but the 100 microM LEV statistically suppressed glutamate overflow. Western blotting was employed to determine the hippocampal expression of glutamate/GABA transporters in epileptic or non-epileptic rats. The rats were treated for 14 days with 54 mg/kg LEV or vehicle intraperitoneally injection. Following 14 days of treatment, the ipsilateral hippocampus was removed for a Western blot analysis. In non-epileptic rats, the expression increased for all of the glutamate and GABA transporters (GLAST, GLT-1, EAAC-1, GAT-1 and GAT-3) while the glutamate transporter regulating protein (GTRAP3-18) decreased in comparison to those of normal rats that were treated with the vehicle. In epileptic rats receiving LEV, the EAAC-1 and GAT-3 levels increased while GTRAP3-18 (89%) decreased in comparison to those of the epileptic rats treated with the vehicle. GTRAP3-18 inhibitor regulates glutamate-binding affinity to EAAC-1. The anti-epileptic action of LEV may be partially due to a reduction of glutamate-induced excitotoxicity and an enhancement of the GABAergic inhibition as observed with the inhibitory effect on the 40 mM KCl-evoked glutamate overflow. These conclusions are supported by the increase in the expression of glial glutamate transporters (GLAST and GLT-1), and the increase in the expression of EAAC-1 and GAT-3 associated with a decrease in GTRAP3-18. The increased expression of EAAC-1 and the decreased expression of GTRAP3-18 in association with the up-regulation of GAT-3 due to such continual LEV administration was thus found to enhance GABA synthesis and reverse the transport of GABA both in non-epileptic and epileptic rats. The suppression of glutamate excitation and the enhancement of GABA inhibition in the rats with continual LEV administration is a result of the up-regulation of glutamate and GABA transporters with the down-regulation of GTRAP3-18. These observations together demonstrated the critical molecular mechanism of the anti-epileptic activity of LEV.

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