A pulse rapamycin therapy for infantile spasms and associated cognitive decline

Saul R. Korey Department of Neurology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx NY 10461, USA.
Neurobiology of Disease (Impact Factor: 5.08). 08/2011; 43(2):322-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.nbd.2011.03.021
Source: PubMed


Infantile spasms are seizures manifesting within a spectrum of epileptic encephalopathies of infancy that often lead to cognitive impairment. Their current therapies, including adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), high dose steroids, or vigabatrin, are not always effective and may be associated with serious side effects. Overactivation of the TORC1 complex of the mTOR pathway is implicated in the pathogenesis of certain genetic and acquired disorders that are linked with infantile spasms, like tuberous sclerosis. Here, we tested the therapeutic potential of rapamycin, a TORC1 inhibitor, as a potential treatment for infantile spasms in the multiple-hit rat model of ACTH-refractory symptomatic infantile spasms, which is not linked to tuberous sclerosis. Rapamycin or vehicle was given after spasms appeared. Their effects on spasms, other seizures, performance in Barnes maze, and expression of the phosphorylated S6 ribosomal protein (pS6: a TORC1 target) in the cortex, using immunofluorescence, were compared. Rapamycin suppressed spasms dose-dependently and improved visuospatial learning, although it did not reduce the frequency of other emerging seizures. High-dose pulse rapamycin effected acute and sustained suppression of spasms and improved cognitive outcome, without significant side effects. Therapeutically effective rapamycin doses normalized the pS6 expression, which was increased in perilesional cortical regions of pups with spasms. These findings support that pathological overactivation of TORC1 may be implicated in the pathogenesis of infantile spasms, including those that are not linked to tuberous sclerosis. Furthermore, a high-dose, pulse rapamycin treatment is a promising, well tolerated and disease-modifying new therapy for infantile spasms, including those refractory to ACTH.

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    • "Dysregulation of mTOR activity is observed in cortical dysplasias and malformations often associated with symptomatic West syndrome. Pulse application of rapamycin, an mTOR inhibitor, suppressed spasms and improved the cognitive outcomes suggesting of contributing role of ongoing spasm in the expression of the encephalopathy (Raffo et al., 2011 "
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    ABSTRACT: The application of metabolic imaging and genetic analysis, and now the development of appropriate animal models, has generated critical insights into the pathogenesis of epileptic encephalopathies. In this article we present ideas intended to move from the lesions associated with epileptic encephalopathies toward understanding the effects of these lesions on the functioning of the brain, specifically of the cortex. We argue that the effects of focal lesions may be magnified through the interaction between cortical and subcortical structures, and that disruption of subcortical arousal centers that regulate cortex early in life may lead to alterations of intracortical synapses that affect a critical period of cognitive development. Impairment of interneuronal function globally through the action of a genetic lesion similarly causes widespread cortical dysfunction manifesting as increased delta slow waves on electroencephalography (EEG) and as developmental delay or arrest clinically. Finally, prolonged focal epileptic activity during sleep (as occurring in the syndrome of continuous spike-wave in slow sleep, or CSWSS) might interfere with local slow wave activity at the site of the epileptic focus, thereby impairing the neural processes and, possibly, the local plastic changes associated with learning and other cognitive functions. Seizures may certainly add to these pathologic processes, but they are likely not necessary for the development of the cognitive pathology. Nevertheless, although seizures may be either a consequence or symptom of the underlying lesion, their effective treatment can improve outcomes as both clinical and experimental studies may suggest. Understanding their substrates may lead to novel, effective treatments for all aspects of the epileptic encephalopathy phenotype.
    Epilepsia 11/2013; 54 Suppl 8(s8):6-13. DOI:10.1111/epi.12417 · 4.57 Impact Factor
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    • "Animal models showed that mTOR inhibitors proved to have antiepileptic and even antiepileptogenic effect, decreasing seizures when started after epilepsy onset of seizures, or preventing the development of epilepsy when initiated prior to the onset of seizures [10]. There is some evidence showing that rapamycin might be a disease modifier agent in epileptic spasms, even not specifically related to TSC, but it doesn’t seem to have the same efficacy on other seizure types [11]. Different models show that beneficial effects on seizures are lost when treatment is withdrawn, suggesting that mTOR inhibitors are “epileptostatic” in only stalling epilepsy progression during treatment [12]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is a genetic multisystem disorder characterized by the development of hamartomas in several organs. Mutations in the TSC1 and TSC2 tumor suppressor genes determin overactivation of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway and subsequent abnormalities in numerous cell processes. As a result, mTOR inhibitors such as sirolimus and everolimus have the potential to provide targeted therapy for TSC patients. Everolimus has been recently approved as a pharmacotherapy option for TSC patients with subependymal giant-cell astrocytomas (SEGAs) or renal angiomyolipomas (AMLs). However, clinical evidence suggests that this treatment can benefit other TSC-associated disease manifestations, such as skin manifestations, pulmonary lymphangioleiomyomatosis, cardiac rhabdomyomas, and epilepsy. Therefore, the positive effects that mTOR inhibition have on a wide variety of TSC disease manifestations make this a potential systemic treatment option for this genetic multifaceted disorder.
    Italian Journal of Pediatrics 09/2013; 39(1):57. DOI:10.1186/1824-7288-39-57 · 1.52 Impact Factor
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    • "The effects of rapamycin in behavioral deficits in several developmental epilepsy models have been evaluated [50], [52]. A recent study shows that rapamycin improves learning and memory in a rat model of infantile spams [52], further supporting a role for mTORC1 dysregulation in the cognitive deficits associated with epilepsy. "
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    ABSTRACT: Cognitive impairments are prominent sequelae of prolonged continuous seizures (status epilepticus; SE) in humans and animal models. While often associated with dendritic injury, the underlying mechanisms remain elusive. The mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) pathway is hyperactivated following SE. This pathway modulates learning and memory and is associated with regulation of neuronal, dendritic, and glial properties. Thus, in the present study we tested the hypothesis that SE-induced mTORC1 hyperactivation is a candidate mechanism underlying cognitive deficits and dendritic pathology seen following SE. We examined the effects of rapamycin, an mTORC1 inhibitor, on the early hippocampal-dependent spatial learning and memory deficits associated with an episode of pilocarpine-induced SE. Rapamycin-treated SE rats performed significantly better than the vehicle-treated rats in two spatial memory tasks, the Morris water maze and the novel object recognition test. At the molecular level, we found that the SE-induced increase in mTORC1 signaling was localized in neurons and microglia. Rapamycin decreased the SE-induced mTOR activation and attenuated microgliosis which was mostly localized within the CA1 area. These findings paralleled a reversal of the SE-induced decreases in dendritic Map2 and ion channels levels as well as improved dendritic branching and spine density in area CA1 following rapamycin treatment. Taken together, these findings suggest that mTORC1 hyperactivity contributes to early hippocampal-dependent spatial learning and memory deficits and dendritic dysregulation associated with SE.
    PLoS ONE 03/2013; 8(3):e57808. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0057808 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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