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Anatomy & Physiology 3/22/13 Professor Leung Jeremy Neidert The Cellular Mechanics of Epilepsy Epilepsy is a common, yet

varied set of chronic neurological disorders that are characterized by seizures. Close to 1% of the population of the United States suffers from some form of epilepsy. Epileptogenesis refers to the cause of this disorder, which can vary from stroke and infection to trauma of the brain, that onset the symptomatic epilepsies. After the epilepsy has started, more seizures are common and triggered in various ways. An absence seizure consists of a blank stare for about thirty seconds then resumption of activity while a more severe state such as status epilepticus will have prolonged seizures so frequently that there is no recovery period. The most easily seen change in the brain during epileptogenesis is neurodegeneration found in both the hilus and the hippocampus as well as surrounding tissue. This was found in the autopsy of patients of chronic epilepsy but through MRI data of various severities, neurodegeneration does not always seem occur. The causes of the seizures themselves are found to be from a basic depolarization shift in the axon, resulting in a spike in electrical activity shown by an EEG. This can be caused by damage to the axon as well as high levels of Ca2+, no Mg2+, and elevated K+. This was found by artificially imposing high levels of K+ channel blocker 4aminopyridine into the K+ rich hippocampus of newborn rats to induce seizures. High K+ was also found in the hippocampus of recorded seizures of cats. The seizure consists of a tonic phase of depolarization and the firing of CA1 pyramidal cells, followed by a clonic phase of bursts of action potentials as well as a brief depolarization, all of which found under an elevated concentration of K+. With the understanding of the symptoms as well as cellular mechanics of epilepsy, various ways of K+ suppression can be studied to cure this illness.

WORKS CITED McNamara, James O. "Cellular and Molecular Basis of Epilepsy." The Journal of Neuroscience, June 1994. Web. 21 Mar. 2013. <> Pitknen, Asla. "Molecular and Cellular Basis of Epileptogenesis in Symptomatic Epilepsy." Elsevier Inc, 2009. Web. 21 Mar. 2013. <>