Persistent sodium current and its role in epilepsy

Epilepsy Curr. Jan-Feb 2007;7(1):15-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1535-7511.2007.00156.x.


Sodium currents are essential for the initiation and propagation of neuronal firing. Alterations of sodium currents can lead to abnormal neuronal activity, such as occurs in epilepsy. The transient voltage-gated sodium current mediates the upstroke of the action potential. A small fraction of sodium current, termed the persistent sodium current (I(NaP)), fails to inactivate significantly, even with prolonged depolarization. I(NaP) is activated in the subthreshold voltage range and is capable of amplifying a neuron's response to synaptic input and enhancing its repetitive firing capability. A burgeoning literature is documenting mutations in sodium channels that underlie human disease, including epilepsy. Some of these mutations lead to altered neuronal excitability by increasing I(NaP). This review focuses on the pathophysiological effects of I(NaP) in epilepsy.