SUNY Downstate Research Suggests that a Novel Inhibitory Brain Receptor Is a Mechanism for Remission of Epilepsy in Adolescence

Aug 26, 2016

Findings May Lead to New Therapies for Childhood Epilepsy


Brooklyn, NY – More than half of children with epilepsy outgrow their seizures, yet the mechanism underlying this remission is unknown.

Now, research led by SUNY Downstate Medical Center shows that, at the onset of puberty, the emergence of a novel inhibitory brain receptor, α4βδ (alpha four beta delta), reduces seizure-like activity in a mouse model of epilepsy. SUNY Downstate’s Professor of Physiology and Pharmacology Sheryl Smith, PhD, and Distinguished Professor of Neurology, Physiology, and Pharmacology Lisa Merlin, MD, are co-authors of the article detailing the research.

Dr. Smith explained, “Seizure-like discharges were three to four-fold greater before puberty and in pubertal mice that lack expression of this receptor. Administration of drugs that selectively enhance inhibition mediated by this receptor further decreased seizure-like activity in this model.”

Dr. Smith concludes, “These findings suggest a mechanism for remission of epilepsy in adolescence and also suggest potential new therapies for childhood epilepsy.”

The report, “Pubertal Expression of α4βδ GABAA Receptors Reduces Seizure-Like Discharges in CA1 Hippocampus,” published by Scientific Reports, is available online at:

The article citation is: Yang, L. et al. Pubertal Expression of α4βδ GABAA Receptors Reduces Seizure-Like Discharges in CA1 Hippocampus. Sci. Rep. 6, 31928; doi: 10.1038/srep31928 (2016).

The research leading to the results published by Scientific Reports was supported by the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Mental Health, Award Number R01-MH100561. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Mental Health or National Institutes of Health.



About SUNY Downstate Medical Center

SUNY Downstate Medical Center, founded in 1860, was the first medical school in the United States to bring teaching out of the lecture hall and to the patient’s bedside. A center of innovation and excellence in research and clinical service delivery, SUNY Downstate Medical Center comprises a College of Medicine, College of Nursing, School of Health Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, School of Public Health, University Hospital of Brooklyn, and a multifaceted biotechnology initiative including the Downstate Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT for early-stage and more mature companies, respectively.

SUNY Downstate ranks twelfth nationally in the number of alumni who are on the faculty of American medical schools. More physicians practicing in New York City have graduated from SUNY Downstate than from any other medical school.