Adenosine dysfunction in epilepsy



Extracellular levels of the brain's endogenous anticonvulsant and neuroprotectant adenosine largely depend on an astrocyte-based adenosine cycle, comprised of ATP release, rapid degradation of ATP into adenosine, and metabolic reuptake of adenosine through equilibrative nucleoside transporters and phosphorylation by adenosine kinase (ADK). Changes in ADK expression and activity therefore rapidly translate into changes of extracellular adenosine, which exerts its potent anticonvulsive and neuroprotective effects by activation of pre- and postsynaptic adenosine A1 receptors. Increases in ADK increase neuronal excitability, whereas decreases in ADK render the brain resistant to seizures and injury. Importantly, ADK was found to be overexpressed and associated with astrogliosis and spontaneous seizures in rodent models of epilepsy, as well as in human specimen resected from patients with hippocampal sclerosis and temporal lobe epilepsy. Several lines of evidence indicate that overexpression of astroglial ADK and adenosine deficiency are pathological hallmarks of the epileptic brain. Consequently, adenosine augmentation therapies constitute a powerful approach for seizure prevention, which is effective in models of epilepsy that are resistant to conventional antiepileptic drugs. The adenosine kinase hypothesis of epileptogenesis suggests that adenosine dysfunction in epilepsy undergoes a biphasic response: an acute surge of adenosine that can be triggered by any type of injury might contribute to the development of astrogliosis via adenosine receptor-dependent and -independent mechanisms. Astrogliosis in turn is associated with overexpression of ADK, which was shown to be sufficient to trigger spontaneous recurrent electrographic seizures. Thus, ADK emerges as a promising target for the prediction and prevention of epilepsy. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.