Stress can promote the frequency and severity of seizures for patients with epilepsy. Medical practitionals and researchers have shed light on why it can occur , and they are even putting some effort to stop it.
The disease epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures, which are sudden surges of electrical activity in the brain.
From research , around 1.3-2.8 million people in the United States have epilepsy. Each year, around 48 in every 100,000 Americans develop the condition.
Stress and anxiety are well-established triggers for seizures among people with epilepsy, and researches have made it clear that reducing stress may lower seizure risk for those with this condition.
Neurologists recommend that patients with epilepsy avoid stressful activities as a means of avoiding stress-induced seizures, it is not always possible to do so, highlighting the need for a therapeutic alternative.
Furthermore , because scientists are uncleared about how stress causes seizures, such a treatment has proven difficult to find.
A researcher , Michael O. Poulter, Ph.D., of the University of Western Ontario in Canada, and colleagues believe they may have moved a step closer to fulfilling this need for preventing this . Each year, around 48 in every 100,000 Americans develop this condition.
Stress-induced seizures caused by increased activity in piriform cortex
From their study, the researchers focused on knowing the activity of corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) in the brains of rats with and without epilepsy.
CRF is a neurotransmitter – a chemical that enables communication between nerve cells , that regulates the behavioral response to stress.
The researchers assessed how CRF affected the piriform cortex of the rodents, which is a region of the brain in which seizures are known to occur among humans with epilepsy.
Activity in the piriform cortex of the brain. Among rats with epilepsy, however, they found CRF did the opposite, incresing activity in the piriform cortex .
“When we used CRF on the epileptic brain, the polarity of the effect flipped; it went from inhibiting the piriform cortex to exciting it,” explains Poulter. “At that point we became excited, and decided to explore exactly why this was happening.”
On further investigation, the team found that CRF altered neuronal signaling in the brains of rats with epilepsy.
Specifically, they found that CRF activated a protein called regulator of G protein signaling protein type 2 (RGS2), which changed communication between nerve cells in the piriform cortex to increase the occurrence of seizures.
The researchers postulated that their findings suggest, it may be possible to prevent stress-induced seizures in patients with epilepsy by blocking CRF.
The researchers also said their findings may have implications for other neurological disorders, such as depression and schizophrenia; these conditions might trigger neurochemical processes that increase severity of symptoms.