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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 527605, 16 pages
Review Article

Altered GABA Signaling in Early Life Epilepsies

Saul R. Korey Department of Neurology, Dominick P. Purpura Department of Neuroscience, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 1410 Pelham Parkway South, Kennedy Center Rm 306, Bronx, NY 10461, USA

Received 7 February 2011; Revised 4 May 2011; Accepted 27 May 2011

Academic Editor: Laura Cancedda

Copyright © 2011 Stephen W. Briggs and Aristea S. Galanopoulou. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The incidence of seizures is particularly high in the early ages of life. The immaturity of inhibitory systems, such as GABA, during normal brain development and its further dysregulation under pathological conditions that predispose to seizures have been speculated to play a major role in facilitating seizures. Seizures can further impair or disrupt GABAA signaling by reshuffling the subunit composition of its receptors or causing aberrant reappearance of depolarizing or hyperpolarizing GABAA receptor currents. Such effects may not result in epileptogenesis as frequently as they do in adults. Given the central role of GABAA signaling in brain function and development, perturbation of its physiological role may interfere with neuronal morphology, differentiation, and connectivity, manifesting as cognitive or neurodevelopmental deficits. The current GABAergic antiepileptic drugs, while often effective for adults, are not always capable of stopping seizures and preventing their sequelae in neonates. Recent studies have explored the therapeutic potential of chloride cotransporter inhibitors, such as bumetanide, as adjunctive therapies of neonatal seizures. However, more needs to be known so as to develop therapies capable of stopping seizures while preserving the age- and sex-appropriate development of the brain.