T-type Ca2+ channels in absence epilepsy
Absence epilepsy accompanies the paroxysmal oscillations in the thalamocortical circuit referred as spike and wave discharges (SWDs). Low-threshold burst firing mediated by T-type Ca2+ channels highly expressed in both inhibitory thalamic reticular nuclei (TRN) and excitatory thalamocortical (TC) neurons has been correlated with the generation of SWDs. A generally accepted view has been that rhythmic burst firing mediated by T-type channels in both TRN and TC neurons are equally critical in the generation of thalamocortical oscillations during sleep rhythms and SWDs. This review examined recent studies on the T-type channels in absence epilepsy which leads to an idea that even though both TRN and TC nuclei are required for thalamocortical oscillations, the contributions of T-type channels to TRN and TC neurons are not equal in the genesis of sleep spindles and SWDs. Accumulating evidence revealed a crucial role of TC T-type channels in SWD generation. However, the role of TRN T-type channels in SWD generation remains controversial. Therefore, a deeper understanding of the functional consequences of modulating each T-type channel subtype could guide the development of therapeutic tools for absence seizures while minimizing side effects on physiological thalamocortical oscillations.