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Functional changes in astroglial cells in epilepsy



Epilepsy comprises a group of disorders characterized by the periodic occurrence of seizures, and pathologic specimens from patients with temporal lobe epilepsy demonstrate marked reactive gliosis. Since recent studies have implicated glial cells in novel physiological roles in the CNS, such as modulation of synaptic transmission, it is plausible that glial cells may have a functional role in the hyperexcitability characteristic of epilepsy. Indeed, alterations in distinct astrocyte membrane channels, receptors and transporters have all been associated with the epileptic state. This review integrates the current evidence regarding astroglial dysfunction in epilepsy and the potential underlying mechanisms of hyperexcitability. Functional understanding of the cellular and molecular alterations of astroglia-dependent hyperexcitability will help to clarify the physiological role of astrocytes in neural function as well as lead to the identification of novel therapeutic targets. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.