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Eur J Neurosci. 2010 Jul;32(1):89-98. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2010.07272.x. Epub 2010 Jun 28.

PSA-NCAM-dependent GDNF signaling limits neurodegeneration and epileptogenesis in temporal lobe epilepsy.

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Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.


Polysialylated neuronal cell adhesion molecule (PSA-NCAM), a polysialylated protein constitutively expressed in the hippocampus, is involved in neuronal growth, synaptic plasticity and neurotrophin signaling. In particular, PSA-NCAM mediates Ret-independent glial-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) signaling, leading to downstream FAK activation. GDNF has potent seizure-suppressant action, whereas PSA-NCAM is upregulated by seizure activity. However, the involvement of Ret-independent GDNF signaling in temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) is not established. We tested the effects of PSA-NCAM inactivation on neurodegeneration and epileptogenesis in a mouse model of TLE. In this model, unilateral intrahippocampal kainic acid (KA) injection induced degeneration of CA1, CA3c and hilar neurons, followed by spontaneous recurrent focal seizures. In the contralateral, morphologically preserved hippocampus, a long-lasting increase of PSA-NCAM immunoreactivity was observed. Inactivation of PSA-NCAM by endoneuraminidase (EndoN) administration into the contralateral ventricle of KA-treated mice caused severe degeneration of CA3a,b neurons and dentate gyrus granule cells in the epileptic focus, and led to early onset of focal seizures. This striking trans-hemispheric alteration suggested that PSA-NCAM mediates GDNF signaling, leading to transport of neuroprotective signals into the lesioned hippocampus. This hypothesis was confirmed by injecting GDNF antibodies into the contralateral hippocampus of KA-treated mice, thereby reproducing the enhanced neurodegeneration seen after PSA-NCAM inactivation. Furthermore, contralateral EndoN and anti-GDNF treatment decreased GDNF family receptor alpha1 immunoreactivity and FAK phosphorylation in the epileptic focus. Thus, Ret-independent GDNF signaling across the commissural projection might protect CA3a,b neurons and delay seizure onset. These findings implicate GDNF in the control of epileptogenesis and offer a possible mechanism explaining lesion asymmetry in mesial TLE.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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