Sleep & Epilepsy Award

Loss Of Function Of The Circadian Molecular Clock May Underlie The Sleep/Epilepsy Relationship

Judy Liu, MD, PhD
Brown University

Up to one in four epilepsy patients experience seizures only during the night. Despite the strong clinical association between epilepsy and sleep, the underlying mechanisms of sleep’s influence on seizure characteristics and occurrence are largely unknown.

To learn more about the ways in which changes in sleep affect seizures and epilepsy, Dr. Liu and her team will use a mouse model that has sleep-associated seizures to determine which stages of sleep are vulnerable to seizures. This study will also examine whether altering the stages of sleep affects frequency or intensity of seizures. These results will build upon previous research in which Dr. Liu and her team found that brain tissue that gives rise to seizures has an impaired circadian clock – the biological “clock” that is synchronized with solar time and controls important biological functions such as gene expression and molecular changes within the cell. Together, these studies will help us to understand the relationship between sleep and epilepsy, and may lead to new strategies for dealing with sleep-associated seizures.


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