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Neuropharmacology. 2013 Jun;69:89-95. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2012.05.049. Epub 2012 Jun 12.

An optogenetic approach in epilepsy.

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Experimental Epilepsy Group, Wallenberg Neuroscience Center, Lund University Hospital, Sölvegatan 17, BMC A11, 22184 Lund, Sweden.


Optogenetic tools comprise a variety of different light-sensitive proteins from single-cell organisms that can be expressed in mammalian neurons and effectively control their excitability. Two main classes of optogenetic tools allow to either depolarize or hyperpolarize, and respectively generate or inhibit action potentials in selective populations of neurons. This opens unprecedented possibilities for delineating the role of certain neuronal populations in brain processing and diseases. Moreover, optogenetics may be considered for developing potential treatment strategies for brain diseases, particularly for excitability disorders such as epilepsy. Expression of the inhibitory halorhodopsin NpHR in hippocampal principal cells has been recently used as a tool to effectively control chemically and electrically induced epileptiform activity in slice preparations, and to reduce in vivo spiking induced by tetanus toxin injection in the motor cortex. In this review we give a comprehensive summary of what has been achieved so far in the field of epilepsy using optogenetics, and discuss some of the possible strategies that could be envisaged in the future. We also point out some of the challenges and pitfalls in relation to possible outcomes of using optogenetics for controlling network excitability, and associated brain diseases. This article is part of the Special Issue entitled 'New Targets and Approaches to the Treatment of Epilepsy'.

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