Researchers found that a dietary supplement called glucosamine helped to reduce neural excitability in rodents.
A new study reveals how a dietary supplement could be used to reduce excitability in brain cells ” a known trigger of seizures ” opening the door to possible new treatments for epilepsy.
Researchers speculated that reductions in a protein modification called O-GlcNAcylation in the brain cells of rats and mice might lead to neural excitability, which is a known trigger of seizures.
In the new study, increasing levels of this protein with glucosamine ” which is a supplement used to help reduce pain in osteoarthritis, among other conditions ” was found to reduce neural excitability in rodents.
The findings not only help to shed light on the processes behind neural excitability, but they may also have identified a new treatment target for epilepsy.
Study co-author Prof. John Chatham, of the Department of Pathology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and colleagues recently reported their findings in The Journal of Neuroscience.
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that is estimated to affect around 3 million adults and 470,000 children in the United States.
The condition is characterized by unpredictable, recurrent seizures, which can occur when brain cells become hyperactive. This may cause surges of electrical activity that disrupt signaling between brain cells.
In a previous study, Prof. Chatham and team found that increases in protein O-GlcNAcylation are associated with a reduction in the strength of synapses in the hippocampus of the brain. Synapses are structures that allow neurons to transmit signals to each other.
The team notes that neural excitability in the hippocampus ” or the learning and memory region of the brain ” is often implicated in people with epilepsy.
Given their previous findings, the researchers hypothesized that increasing O-GlcNAcylation levels could help to reduce neural excitability, thereby preventing seizures.