Temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) is the most common form of epilepsy &is often medically intractable. A large body of evidence indicates that abnormalities in inhibitory neurotransmission play an important role in TLE. GABAA receptors (GABARs) are pentamers composed of subunits from multiple subunit families that display developmental, regional and disease specific differences in expression, however, little is known regarding their regulation either in health or in disease. Our laboratories have identified long-term changes in GABAR a subunit gene expression, including decreases in expression of the a1 gene (Gabra1) in rat hippocampal dentate granule neurons following status epilepticus (SE) that are associated with later development of epilepsy. In the previous funding period, we established that decreased transcription of Gabra1 after SE is mediated by inducible cAMP early repressor (ICER) and phosphorylated CREB that bind to the Gabra1 CRE site. We further showed that ICER transcription is activated by the Janus Kinase (JAK)/Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription (STAT) signaling cascade, via actions of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). The JAK/STAT pathway has been little studied in epilepsy, and beyond its role in Gabra1 regulation, it is known to be an important regulator of neuronal proliferation, survival and gliogenesis, all of which may be important contributors to epileptogenesis. In the current proposal we will examine how BDNF signals through the JAK/STAT pathway to control GABAR subunit expression in the brain and its potential role in seizure- susceptibility. Specifically, we propose to: I. Determine how BDNF activates the JAK/STAT pathway. II. Determine the region and cell specificity of JAK/STAT activation in vivo after SE. III. Determine whether animals can be rescued from epilepsy development via manipulation of the BDNF-induced JAK/STAT pathway before or after SE. Results of these studies will provide new information about the dynamic interactions of BDNF and the JAK/STAT signaling cascade in its regulation of brain inhibition, especially as it pertains to the formation of a1 containing GABARs, and have the promise of facilitating the development of new therapies for the prevention, treatment or cure of epilepsy, as well as other nervous system disorders that share a change in the functional expression of a1 containing GABARs.

Public Health Relevance

Epilepsy and seizures affect over 3 million Americans of all ages, and 50,000,000 people worldwide. Over thirty percent of patients with epilepsy have seizures that cannot be controlled with current treatments and up to 50,000 people die each year from seizures and related causes. The proposed studies seek to find new ways of treating and preventing epilepsy by identifying and then reversing the changes in brain cells that lead to this condition.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Research Project (R01)
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Clinical Neuroplasticity and Neurotransmitters Study Section (CNNT)
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Whittemore, Vicky R
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University of Colorado Denver
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United States
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