[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 27-Oct-2009
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Contact: Charlotte Webber
charlotte.webber@biomedcentral.com
44-203-192-2129
BioMed Central

Epilepsy drugs could treat Alzheimer's and Parkinson's

Researchers in the USA have discovered a potential new function for anti-epileptic drugs in treating neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. The study, published in BioMed Central's open access journal Molecular Neurodegeneration, found that neurons in the brain were protected after treatment with T-type calcium-channel blockers, which are commonly used to treat epilepsy.

Calcium signaling pathways play a vital role in the survival of neurons in the brain. As age increases, calcium homeostasis can be disrupted in the brain, which may lead to cognitive and functional decline. It therefore raises the possibility that chemicals able to modulate calcium homeostasis could protect neurons.

Jianxin Bao and colleagues, from Washington University, Missouri, USA, were one of the first teams to explore the possible protective effects of blockers for T-type calcium channels. The mechanisms for neuroprotection by these antiepileptic drugs were previously unknown. Bao's team established cell culture models to directly test whether these drugs could preserve neurons in long- and short-term cultures in vitro.

They found that neurons showed an increase in viability after treatment with either L-type or T-type calcium channel inhibitors. Furthermore, neurons in the long-term and short-term cultures were protected, respectively, by L-type and T-type calcium channel blockers, suggesting that more than one calcium-signaling mechanism exists to regulate long- and short-term neuron survival.

There are presently no effective medications for age-related neurodegeneration. Bao said "Our data provides implications for the use of this family of anti-epileptic drugs in developing new treatments for neuronal injury, and for the need of further studies of the use of such drugs in age-related neurodegenerative disorders."

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Notes to Editors

1. Neuroprotective effects of blockers for T-type calcium channels
Norelle C Wildburger, Avary Lin-Ye, Michelle A Baird, Debin Lei and Jianxin Bao
Molecular Neurodegeneration (in press)

During embargo, article available here: http://www.molecularneurodegeneration.com/imedia/3030472402951410_article.pdf?random=447962

After the embargo, article available at the journal website: http://www.molecularneurodegeneration.com/

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.

Article citation and URL available on request at press@biomedcentral.com on the day of publication

2. Molecular Neurodegeneration is an open access, peer-reviewed online journal that will encompass all aspects of neurodegeneration research at the molecular and cellular levels.

3. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector.



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