Brain's cannabinoid system fights seizures

Aug 17, 2006

A German-led study shows the brain area that responds to the active chemical in marijuana also provides central "on-demand" protection against seizures.

Beat Lutz and Giovanni Marsicano of the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich and Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz say their discoveries suggest the "endocannabinoid" system might constitute a prime target for drugs against seizures of epilepsy and other neurodegenerative diseases.

The endocannabinoid system, which includes the receptors, the natural cannabinoid compounds that trigger them, as well as the machinery for regulating the process, was known to modulate the excitation of neuronal transmission, noted the researchers. However, it had not been established that such modulation might affect neurons in the hippocampus responsible for the "excitotoxicity" that underlies the uncontrolled activity of seizures.

The researchers say their experiments prove endocannabinoid receptors are also present in the same glutamatergic neurons in areas of the hippocampus known to be central to seizure generation. The scientists say that finding "represents a novel step in understanding the progression of acute excitotoxic seizures and the development of epileptic states."

The study appears in the current issue of the journal Neuron.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: The impact of bacteria in our guts

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Mexico acid leak leaves orange river, toxic water

1 hour ago

Ramona Yesenia stood in her town square with two empty jugs, waiting for water to replace the municipal supply contaminated by a chemical spill that turned Mexico's Sonora river orange.

Recommended for you

The impact of bacteria in our guts

1 minute ago

The word metabolism gets tossed around a lot, but it means much more than whether you can go back to the buffet for seconds without worrying about your waistline. In fact, metabolism is the set of biochemical ...

The striatum acts as hub for multisensory integration

11 minutes ago

A new study from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden provides insight on how the brain processes external input such as touch, vision or sound from different sources and sides of the body, in order to select ...

Healthy diet vital for adolescent mental health

17 minutes ago

(Medical Xpress)—New Zealand adolescents may need to increase their fruit and vegetable intake and reduce unhealthy options like sugary drinks and takeaways, to protect their mental health.

Stem cell therapies hold promise, but obstacles remain

22 minutes ago

(Medical Xpress)—In an article appearing online today in the journal Science, a group of researchers, including University of Rochester neurologist Steve Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., review the potential and ch ...

User comments : 0