Topiramate is a novel anti-convulsant, structurally distinct from other known anti-convulsants. A number of independent studies suggest that topiramate has anti-excitotoxic properties. It has been found to diminish release of glutamate from neurons and block (-amino-3-hydoxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-proprionic acid glutamate receptor evoked currents. Since activation of non-N-methyl-D-aspartate glutamate receptors is thought to play a role in the selective loss of motor neurons in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), we determined whether topiramate could protect against chronic glutamate-mediated motor neuron degeneration. An organotypic spinal cord culture system was used in which glutamate transport is inhibited by pharmacological blockade. After 3 weeks of treatment, topiramate was found to significantly prevent motor neuron degeneration in this culture model. However, the drug did not increase survival in G93A SOD1 transgenic mice, an animal model of ALS. These studies suggest that topiramate could be useful as a neuroprotectant, but were not effective in more complex motor injury paradigms such as the mouse model of ALS.
- Motor neuron
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