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Keywords:

  • Synaptic transmission;
  • Epilepsy;
  • Presynaptic;
  • Postsynaptic;
  • Neuropeptides;
  • Synaptic vesciles;
  • Antiepileptic drugs

Summary

Synaptic transmission is the communication between a presynaptic and a postsynaptic neuron, and the subsequent processing of the signal. These processes are complex and highly regulated, reflecting their importance in normal brain functioning and homeostasis. Sustaining synaptic transmission depends on the continuing cycle of synaptic vesicle formation, release, and endocytosis, which requires proteins such as dynamin, syndapin, synapsin, and synaptic vesicle protein 2A. Synaptic transmission is regulated by diverse mechanisms, including presynaptic modulators of synaptic vesicle formation and release, postsynaptic receptors and signaling, and modulators of neurotransmission. Neurotransmitters released presynaptically can bind to their postsynaptic receptors, the inhibitory γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)ergic receptors or the excitatory glutamate receptors. Once released, glutamate activates a variety of postsynaptic receptors including α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA), N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA), kainate, and metabotropic receptors. The activation of the receptors triggers downstream signaling cascades generating a vast array of effects, which can be modulated by a numerous auxiliary regulatory subunits. Moreover, different neuropeptides such as neuropeptide Y, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), somatostatin, ghrelin, and galanin, act as regulators of diverse synaptic functions and along with the classic neurotransmitters. Abnormalities in the regulation of synaptic transmission play a critical role in the pathogenesis of numerous brain diseases, including epilepsy. This review focuses on the different mechanisms involved in the regulation of synaptic transmission, which may play a role in the pathogenesis of epilepsy: the presynaptic modulators of synaptic vesicle formation and release, postsynaptic receptors, and modulators of neurotransmission, including the mechanism by which drugs can modulate the frequency and severity of epileptic seizures.