What is the role of calcium in the pathophysiology of epileptic seizures?

Updated: May 30, 2019
  • Author: David Y Ko, MD; Chief Editor: Selim R Benbadis, MD  more...
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Answer

Calcium is a catalyst for many intracellular reactions that lead to changes in phosphorylation and gene expression. Thus, it is in itself a second-messenger system. NMDA receptors are generally assumed to be associated with learning and memory. The activation of NMDA receptors is increased in several animal models of epilepsy, such as kindling, kainic acid, pilocarpine, and other focal-onset epilepsy models.

Some patients with epilepsy may have an inherited predisposition for fast or long-lasting activation of NMDA channels that alters their seizure threshold. Other possible alterations include the ability of intracellular proteins to buffer calcium, increasing the vulnerability of neurons to any kind of injury that otherwise would not result in neuronal death.


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