, Volume 50, Issue 2, pp 626-646,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 06 Apr 2014

Neuropeptides as Targets for the Development of Anticonvulsant Drugs

Abstract

Epilepsy is a common neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures. These seizures are due to abnormal excessive and synchronous neuronal activity in the brain caused by a disruption of the delicate balance between excitation and inhibition. Neuropeptides can contribute to such misbalance by modulating the effect of classical excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters. In this review, we discuss 21 different neuropeptides that have been linked to seizure disorders. These neuropeptides show an aberrant expression and/or release in animal seizure models and/or epilepsy patients. Many of these endogenous peptides, like adrenocorticotropic hormone, angiotensin, cholecystokinin, cortistatin, dynorphin, galanin, ghrelin, neuropeptide Y, neurotensin, somatostatin, and thyrotropin-releasing hormone, are able to suppress seizures in the brain. Other neuropeptides, such as arginine-vasopressine peptide, corticotropin-releasing hormone, enkephalin, β-endorphin, pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide, and tachykinins have proconvulsive properties. For oxytocin and melanin-concentrating hormone both pro- and anticonvulsive effects have been reported, and this seems to be dose or time dependent. All these neuropeptides and their receptors are interesting targets for the development of new antiepileptic drugs. Other neuropeptides such as nesfatin-1 and vasoactive intestinal peptide have been less studied in this field; however, as nesfatin-1 levels change over the course of epilepsy, this can be considered as an interesting marker to diagnose patients who have suffered a recent epileptic seizure.