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Epilepsy Res. 2011 Dec;97(3):290-9. doi: 10.1016/j.eplepsyres.2011.09.025. Epub 2011 Nov 8.

Transition to seizure: from "macro"- to "micro"-mysteries.

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Division of Fundamental Neurobiology, Toronto Western Research Institute, Toronto Western Hospital, Toronto, ON, Canada.


One of the most terrifying aspects of epilepsy is the sudden and apparently unpredictable transition of the brain into the pathological state of an epileptic seizure. The pathophysiology of the transition to seizure still remains mysterious. Herein we review some of the key concepts and relevant literatures dealing with this enigmatic transitioning of brain states. At the "MACRO" level, electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings at time display preictal phenomena followed by pathological high-frequency oscillations at the seizure onset. Numerous seizure prediction algorithms predicated on identifying changes prior to seizure onset have met with little success, underscoring our lack of understanding of the dynamics of transition to seizure, amongst other inherent limitation. We then discuss the concept of synchronized hyperexcited oscillatory networks underlying seizure generation. We consider these networks as weakly coupled oscillators, a concept which forms the basis of some relevant mathematical modeling of seizure transitions. Next, the underlying "MICRO" processes involved in seizure generation are discussed. The depolarization of the GABA(A) chloride reversal potential is a major concept, facilitating epileptogenesis, particularly in immature brain. Also the balance of inhibitory and excitatory local neuronal networks plays an important role in the process of transitioning to seizure. Gap junctional communication, including that which occurs between glia, as well as ephaptic interactions are increasingly recognized as critical for seizure generation. In brief, this review examines the evidence regarding the characterization of the transition to seizure at both the "MACRO" and "MICRO" levels, trying to characterize this mysterious yet critical problem of the brain state transitioning into a seizure.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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