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Epilepsy Behav. 2013 Aug;28(2):243-8. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2013.02.029. Epub 2013 Apr 5.

Ezogabine (KCNQ2/3 channel opener) prevents delayed activation of meningeal nociceptors if given before but not after the occurrence of cortical spreading depression.

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Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


We proposed recently that induction of delayed activation of trigeminovascular neurons by cortical spreading depression (CSD) can explain the delayed onset of headache after the migraine aura ("aura"). This prompted us to search for ways to block the neuronal activation by CSD - a preclinical correlate of an attempt to find a drug that can block the initiation of headache when administered shortly after onset of aura (i.e., preemptively). Because migraine headache and epileptic seizures are comorbid chronic neurological disorders characterized by hyperexcitable brain networks, we began the search for such goal with an M-type potassium channel opener. We opted to use ezogabine, recently approved by the FDA as adjunctive treatment of partial onset seizures in adults, because it is a selective KCNQ2/3 channel opener. When CSD was induced before ezogabine injection (8.25 mg/kg, i.p.), 40% (6/15) of the units doubled their firing rate about 45 min later for about 95 min. Similarly, when CSD was induced before vehicle was injected (4% DMSO, 0.5% methylcellulose), 50% (3/6) of the units doubled their firing rate about 30 min later for about 120 min. When CSD was triggered 1h after ezogabine injection, it activated only 8% of the units. By itself, ezogabine injection resulted in a 30% attenuation of ongoing firing in all 10 control units. Thus, activation of KCNQ2/3 channels during the aura is unlikely to preempt the onset of headache but may reduce the incidence of migraine if given during prodromes that precede the headache by hours. Given the mechanistic similarities between migraine aura and epileptic seizures, it may be worthwhile to determine whether preemptive administration of ezogabine can prevent oncoming seizures in patients whose warning signs precede their seizures by more than an hour.

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