mTOR inhibition in epilepsy: rationale and clinical perspectives

CNS Drugs. 2015 Feb;29(2):91-9. doi: 10.1007/s40263-014-0223-x.


Despite a large number of available medical options, many individuals with epilepsy are refractory to existing therapies that mainly target neurotransmitter or ion channel activity. A growing body of preclinical data has uncovered a molecular pathway that appears crucial in many genetic and acquired epilepsy syndromes. The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway regulates a number of cellular processes required in the growth, metabolism, structure, and cell-cell interactions of neurons and glia. Rapamycin and similar compounds inhibit mTOR complex 1 and decrease seizures, delay seizure development, or prevent epileptogenesis in many animal models of mTOR hyperactivation. However, the exact mechanisms by which mTOR inhibition drives decreased seizure activity have not been completely determined. Nonetheless, these preclinical data have led to limited use in humans with epilepsy due to tuberous sclerosis complex and polyhydramnios, megalencephaly, and symptomatic epilepsy with promising results. Currently, larger controlled studies are underway using mTOR inhibitors in individuals with tuberous sclerosis complex and intractable epilepsy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticonvulsants / adverse effects
  • Anticonvulsants / pharmacology*
  • Epilepsy / drug therapy*
  • Epilepsy / enzymology
  • Humans
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases