Hippocampal sclerosis is a common acquired disease that is a major cause of drug-resistant epilepsy. A mechanism that has been proposed to lead from brain insult to hippocampal sclerosis is the excessive generation of reactive oxygen species, and consequent mitochondrial failure. Here we use a novel strategy to increase endogenous antioxidant defences using RTA 408, which we show activates nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2, encoded by NFE2L2) through inhibition of kelch like ECH associated protein 1 (KEAP1) through its primary sensor C151. Activation of Nrf2 with RTA 408 inhibited reactive oxygen species production, mitochondrial depolarization and cell death in an in vitro model of seizure-like activity. RTA 408 given after status epilepticus in vivo increased ATP, prevented neuronal death, and dramatically reduced (by 94%) the frequency of late spontaneous seizures for at least 4 months following status epilepticus. Thus, acute KEAP1 inhibition following status epilepticus exerts a neuroprotective and disease-modifying effect, supporting the hypothesis that reactive oxygen species generation is a key event in the development of epilepsy.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n°602102 (EPITARGET) and Epilepsy Research UK (Project Grant P1301) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (Project Grant BB/L01923X/1).
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- Nrf2-KEAP1 pathway
- mitochondrial dysfunction
- oxidative stress