CURE Epilepsy Award

Nighttime Mechanisms for SUDEP

Gordon Buchanan, MD, PhD
University of Iowa Medicine

Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) is the leading cause of death in people with treatment-resistant epilepsy. SUDEP occurs commonly at night. This is often attributed to SUDEP occurring during sleep; however, emerging data suggest that time-of-day may play an independent role in SUDEP.  

Dr. Buchanan’s group will examine whether a signaling molecule called serotonin drives this time-of-day vulnerability to SUDEP. They will eliminate the body’s 24-hour clock or remove serotonin in a mouse model of Dravet Syndrome, an epileptic encephalopathy that has a high SUDEP incidence, and study the effect of these manipulations on the timing of seizure-induced death.  

Determining how time-of-day interacts with SUDEP may profoundly impact how SUDEP research is conducted and lead to the development of actionable strategies for reducing SUDEP.

This CURE Epilepsy Award is funded by The Joanna Sophia Foundation.