Researchers Examine Seizures Common in Long-Term Alcohol Withdrawal

Posted on October 28th, 2009
Posted in Alcohol Abuse

A person who has been a long-term or chronic drinker will experience specific withdrawal symptoms when drinking abruptly stops. Perhaps one of the most dramatic withdrawal symptoms is that of Epileptic seizures.

According to a recent Science Daily report, it is the flow of calcium irons into the brain cells by way of voltage-gated calcium channels that play an important role in the generation of these seizures. Researchers at the Georgetown University Medical Center wanted to know if blocking this flow would suppress the seizures.

One of the questions researchers had to be able to answer was whether or not changes in calcium currents contributed to alcohol withdrawal seizures or if they were a consequence of the seizures.

With careful analysis of correlations between the seizures and the expression of calcium currents, researchers found that the enhancement of total calcium current density in pre-clinical animal studies occurs prior to the onset of alcohol withdrawal seizures. In fact, calcium levels remain enhanced during the periods of seizure susceptibility, but return to control levels when the period of seizure susceptibility is over.

"These preliminary findings are the first to indicate that altered calcium channel activity contributes to the occurrence of alcohol withdrawal seizures," explained lead author, Prosper N’Gouemo, PhD, an assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at GUMC, in Science Daily. "The next step in our research is to determine which types of voltage-gated calcium channels contribute to the enhanced current density that takes place before the onset of alcohol withdrawal seizures so a potential treatment can be developed."
 

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