Molecular imbalance linked to brain tumour seizures

Researchers in France may have discovered why some patients with a type of brain tumour have epileptic seizures.

Their study, published in Science Translational Medicine, suggests that seizures in patients with glioma may be linked to an imbalance of chloride – which is involved in – in certain brain cells.

Whether a patient has seizures is linked to how aggressive their tumour is – with less aggressive cases being more prone to epilepsy as slowly progress and alter brain tissue.

It is hoped that further research could explore treatments for glioma-linked epilepsy by controlling chloride levels in the brain.

Glioma develops from specialised brain cells known as 'glial cells' that usually help to keep brain in place, providing support and protection to ensure correct brain function.

In the latest study, scientists from Sorbonne University studied brain tissue samples from 47 glioma patients and found that infiltrated by glioma cells behaves in similar ways to other forms of epilepsy.

Looking at the patient samples, the team found that a particular type of nerve cell – called a pyramidal cell – released excessive amounts of chloride from inside the cells when exposed to a molecule called GABA, which is also involved in transmitting .

GABA was released by other neighbouring nerve cells called 'interneurons'. And the researchers believe that the release of chloride through specialised molecular channels in the membrane of nerve cells, may be responsible for the seizures experienced in some glioma patients.

Dr Robin Grant, an expert in epilepsy and glioma from the Edinburgh Cancer Research UK Centre, who was not involved in the research, said that the channels may make good drug targets for further investigation, but a finer understanding of the involvement of other processes is still needed.

"This small study is interesting and shows that glioma-linked epilepsy, as with other types of epilepsy, may be connected to certain channels found in the membranes of nerve cells.

"More research will be needed to understand the finer details of this process in glioma and whether these channels, along with other similar channels found in nerve cells, could be good targets for drugs to help control the condition."

More information: Pallud J, et al. (2014). "Cortical GABAergic excitation contributes to epileptic activities around human glioma," Science Translational Medicine, 6 (244) 244ra89-244ra89. DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.3008065

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Cats and humans suffer from similar forms of epilepsy

Feb 01, 2013

Epilepsy arises when the brain is temporarily swamped by uncoordinated signals from nerve cells.  Research at the Vetmeduni Vienna has now uncovered a cause of a particular type of epilepsy in cats.  Surprisingly, an incorrectly ...

Chloride channels render nerve cells more excitable

Apr 20, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Nerve cells communicate with each other by means of electrical impulses. To create such an impulse, the cells exchange charged ions with their environment. However, the role played by the ...

Harnessing the ID in glioma

Dec 17, 2012

Gliomas are the most common form of brain tumor. They are highly aggressive and effective treatments are not currently available. The tumors contain glioma initiating cells (GICs), a population that is highly similar to neural ...

New insights into pain relief drugs

Jul 04, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—Scientists from the Research School of Biology have opened the door to a new world of pain treatments with their discovery of the exact way that pain relief drugs, such as anaesthetics, ...

Recommended for you

Proteases help nerve cells to navigate

1 hour ago

Our ability to move relies on the correct formation of connections between different nerve cells and between nerve and muscle cells. Growing axons of nerve cells are guided to their targets by signposts expressed ...

New test to help brain injury victims recover

Oct 21, 2014

A dynamic new assessment for helping victims of trauma to the brain, including those suffering from progressive conditions such as dementia, has been developed by a clinical neuropsychologist at the University ...

See-through sensors open new window into the brain

Oct 21, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—Developing invisible implantable medical sensor arrays, a team of University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers has overcome a major technological hurdle in researchers' efforts to understand ...

User comments