October 1, 2021

Pruning the Dendritic Tree for a Better Understanding of Epileptic Seizures

Study originally published in the Journal of Neuroscience

Researchers at the University of Bonn have shed light on the function of the enzyme SLK for the development of nerve cells in the brain. If it is missing, the neurons’ branches are less abundant. In addition, it is then more difficult to inhibit the activity of the cells. This is consistent with the fact that there is less SLK in diseased brain tissue from epilepsy patients. Epileptic seizures are characterized by overexcitation of neuron clusters. The findings may help to improve treatment of the disease. The study is published in the prestigious Journal of Neuroscience.

SLK therefore appears to be important in maintaining normal levels of inhibitory synapses. Without the kinase, the affected neurons become increasingly difficult to inhibit over time. This fits in with the fact that the researchers were able to detect SLK deficiency in the nerve cells of brain tissue from epilepsy patients. During epileptic seizures, whole areas of the brain are overexcited, meaning that the neurons fire too easily.

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