Epileptogenesis is defined as the latent period at the end of which spontaneous recurrent seizures occur. This concept has been recently re-evaluated to include exacerbation of clinically-manifested epilepsy. Thus, in patients affected by pharmacoresistant seizures, the progression toward a worse condition may be viewed as the result of a durable epileptogenic process. However, the mechanism potentially responsible for this progression remains unclear. Neuroinflammation has been consistently detected both in the latent period and in the chronic phase of epilepsy, especially when brain damage is present. This phenomenon is accompanied by glial cell reaction, leading to gliosis. We have previously described rats presenting an increased expression of the cytochrome P450 cholesterol side-chain cleavage (P450scc) enzyme, during the latent period, in glial cells of the hippocampus. The P450scc enzyme is critically involved in the synthesis of neurosteroids and its up-regulation is associated with a delayed appearance of spontaneous recurrent seizures in rats that experienced status epilepticus induced by pilocarpine. Moreover, by decreasing the synthesis of neurosteroids able to promote inhibition, such as allopregnanolone, through the administration of the 5α-reductase blocker finasteride, it is possible to terminate the latent period in pilocarpine-treated rats. Finasteride was also found to promote seizures in the chronic period of epileptic rats, suggesting that neurosteroids are continuously produced to counteract seizures. In humans, exacerbation of epilepsy has been also described in patients occasionally exposed to finasteride. Overall, these findings suggest a major role of neurosteroids in the progression of epilepsy and a possible antiepileptogenic role of allopregnanolone and cognate molecules.
Neurosteroids and epileptogenesis / Biagini, Giuseppe; Rustichelli, Cecilia; Curia, Giulia; Lucchi, Chiara; Pugnaghi, Matteo; Meletti, Stefano; Avoli, M.. - (2013). (Intervento presentato al convegno 7th International meeting Steroids and Nervous System tenutosi a Torino-Orbassano, Italy nel 16-20 febbraio 2013).