Scientists have identified a potential new therapeutic target in Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
Investigators have identified clinically silent hippocampal seizures and epileptiform spikes during sleep, a period when such abnormalities are most likely to interfere with memory consolidation. While the alterations were undetectable by standard EEG taken on the scalp, they were identified using intracranial foramen ovale (FO) electrodes
During a 12-hour period, one patient experienced three seizures during sleep. Treatment with an anti-seizure medication eliminated seizure-like activity. In the following year, the patient experienced only one episode of confusion which occurred after the patient missed several doses of anti-seizure medication. FO electrode recording in the second patient also revealed frequent spiking during sleep, but anti-seizure treatment was discontinued because of adverse effects on mood.
“While it is not surprising to find dysfunction in brain networks in Alzheimer’s disease, our novel finding that networks involved in memory function can become silently epileptic could lead to opportunities to target that dysfunction with new or existing drugs to reduce symptoms or potentially alter the course of the disease,” said Dr Andrew Cole, senior author of the paper published in Nature Medicine .