Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Pathway in Epileptic Disorders

J Korean Neurosurg Soc. 2019 May;62(3):272-287. doi: 10.3340/jkns.2019.0027. Epub 2019 May 1.


The mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway coordinates the metabolic activity of eukaryotic cells through environmental signals, including nutrients, energy, growth factors, and oxygen. In the nervous system, the mTOR pathway regulates fundamental biological processes associated with neural development and neurodegeneration. Intriguingly, genes that constitute the mTOR pathway have been found to be germline and somatic mutation from patients with various epileptic disorders. Hyperactivation of the mTOR pathway due to said mutations has garnered increasing attention as culprits of these conditions : somatic mutations, in particular, in epileptic foci have recently been identified as a major genetic cause of intractable focal epilepsy, such as focal cortical dysplasia. Meanwhile, epilepsy models with aberrant activation of the mTOR pathway have helped elucidate the role of the mTOR pathway in epileptogenesis, and evidence from epilepsy models of human mutations recapitulating the features of epileptic patients has indicated that mTOR inhibitors may be of use in treating epilepsy associated with mutations in mTOR pathway genes. Here, we review recent advances in the molecular and genetic understanding of mTOR signaling in epileptic disorders. In particular, we focus on the development of and limitations to therapies targeting the mTOR pathway to treat epileptic seizures. We also discuss future perspectives on mTOR inhibition therapies and special diagnostic methods for intractable epilepsies caused by brain somatic mutations.

Keywords: Epilepsy; Malformation of cortical development; mTORC1; mTORC2.