Proteomic analysis of human epileptic neocortex predicts vascular and glial changes in epileptic regions


Epilepsy is a common neurological disorder, which is not well understood at the molecular level. Exactly why some brain regions produce epileptic discharges and others do not is not known. Patients who fail to respond to antiseizure medication (refractory epilepsy) can benefit from surgical removal of brain regions to reduce seizure frequency. The tissue removed in these surgeries offers an invaluable resource to uncover the molecular and cellular basis of human epilepsy. Here, we report a proteomic study to determine whether there are common proteomic patterns in human brain regions that produce epileptic discharges. We analyzed human brain samples, as part of the Systems Biology of Epilepsy Project (SBEP). These brain pieces are in vivo electrophysiologically characterized human brain samples withdrawn from the neocortex of six patients with refractory epilepsy. This study is unique in that for each of these six patients the comparison of protein expression was made within the same patient: a more epileptic region was compared to a less epileptic brain region. The amount of epileptic activity was defined for each patient as the frequency of their interictal spikes (electric activity between seizures that is a parameter strongly linked to epilepsy). Proteins were resolved from three subcellular fractions, using a 2D differential gel electrophoresis (2D-DIGE), revealing 31 identified protein spots that changed significantly. Interestingly, glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) was found to be consistently down regulated in high spiking brain tissue and showed a strong negative correlation with spike frequency. We also developed a two-step analysis method to select for protein species that changed frequently among the patients and identified these proteins. A total of 397 protein spots of interest (SOI) were clustered by protein expression patterns across all samples. These clusters were used as markers and this analysis predicted proteomic changes due to both histological differences and molecular pathways, revealed by examination of gene ontology clusters. Our experimental design and proteomic data analysis predicts novel glial changes, increased angiogenesis, and changes in cytoskeleton and neuronal projections between high and low interictal spiking regions. Quantitative histological staining of these same tissues for both the vascular and glial changes confirmed these findings, which provide new insights into the structural and functional basis of neocortical epilepsy.




Keren-Aviram, G., Dachet, F., Bagla, S., Balan, K., Loeb, J. A., & Dratz, E. A. (2018). Proteomic analysis of human epileptic neocortex predicts vascular and glial changes in epileptic regions. PLOS ONE, 13(4), e0195639. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0195639
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