Seizure control by decanoic acid through direct AMPA receptor inhibition

Pishan Chang, Katrin Augustin, Kim Boddum, Sophie Williams, Min Sun, John Terschak, Joerg Hardege, Philip Chen, Matthew Walker, Robin Williams

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The medium chain triglyceride (MCT) ketogenic diet is an established treatment for drug-resistant epilepsy that increases plasma levels of decanoic acid and ketones. Recently, decanoic acid has been shown to provide seizure control in vivo, yet its mechanism of action remains unclear. Here we show that decanoic acid, but not the ketones β-hydroxybutryate or acetone, shows antiseizure activity in two acute ex vivo rat hippocampal slice models of epileptiform activity. To search for a mechanism of decanoic acid, we show it has a strong inhibitory effect on excitatory, but not inhibitory, neurotransmission in hippocampal slices. Using heterologous expression of excitatory ionotropic glutamate receptor AMPA subunits in Xenopus oocytes, we show that this effect is through direct AMPA receptor inhibition, a target shared by a recently introduced epilepsy treatment perampanel. Decanoic acid acts as a non-competitive antagonist at therapeutically relevant concentrations, in a voltage- and subunit-dependent manner, and this is sufficient to explain its antiseizure effects. This inhibitory effect is likely to be caused by binding to sites on the M3 helix of the AMPA-GluA2 trans-membrane domain; independent from the binding site of perampanel. Together our results indicate that the direct inhibition of excitatory neurotransmission by decanoic acid in the brain may contribute to the anti-convulsant effect of the MCT ketogenic diet.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-443
Number of pages13
Issue number2
Early online date25 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016

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