Treatment during a vulnerable developmental period rescues a genetic epilepsy

Nat Med. 2015 Dec;21(12):1436-44. doi: 10.1038/nm.3987. Epub 2015 Nov 23.


The nervous system is vulnerable to perturbations during specific developmental periods. Insults during such susceptible time windows can have long-term consequences, including the development of neurological diseases such as epilepsy. Here we report that a pharmacological intervention timed during a vulnerable neonatal period of cortical development prevents pathology in a genetic epilepsy model. By using mice with dysfunctional Kv7 voltage-gated K(+) channels, which are mutated in human neonatal epilepsy syndromes, we demonstrate the safety and efficacy of the sodium-potassium-chloride cotransporter NKCC1 antagonist bumetanide, which was administered during the first two postnatal weeks. In Kv7 current-deficient mice, which normally display epilepsy, hyperactivity and stereotypies as adults, transient bumetanide treatment normalized neonatal in vivo cortical network and hippocampal neuronal activity, prevented structural damage in the hippocampus and restored wild-type adult behavioral phenotypes. Furthermore, bumetanide treatment did not adversely affect control mice. These results suggest that in individuals with disease susceptibility, timing prophylactically safe interventions to specific windows during development may prevent or arrest disease progression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Bumetanide / pharmacology
  • Bumetanide / therapeutic use
  • CA1 Region, Hippocampal / pathology
  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Electroencephalography
  • Embryo, Mammalian / drug effects
  • Embryo, Mammalian / metabolism
  • Embryo, Mammalian / pathology
  • Epilepsy / drug therapy*
  • Epilepsy / genetics*
  • Epilepsy / pathology
  • Female
  • Growth and Development / drug effects
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • KCNQ Potassium Channels / genetics
  • KCNQ Potassium Channels / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Nerve Net / drug effects
  • Nerve Net / pathology
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Solute Carrier Family 12, Member 2 / metabolism
  • Time Factors


  • KCNQ Potassium Channels
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Solute Carrier Family 12, Member 2
  • Bumetanide