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HCN channelopathies: pathophysiology in genetic epilepsy and therapeutic implications.

Christopher A Reid, A Marie Phillips, Steven Petrou

Br. J. Pharmacol., 2012 Jan , 165, 49-56

Hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated channels (HCN) can act as pacemakers in the brain making them strong candidates for driving aberrant hypersynchronous network activity seen in epilepsy. Transcriptional changes in HCN channels occur in several animal models of epilepsy. However, only recently have genetic studies demonstrated sequence variation in HCN1 and HCN2 genes associated with human epilepsy. These include a triple proline deletion in HCN2 that increases channel function and occurs more often in patients with febrile seizure syndromes. Other HCNx gene variants have been described in idiopathic generalized epilepsy although the functional consequence of these remains unclear. In this review we explore potential cellular and network mechanisms involving HCN channels in the genetic epilepsies. We suggest how new genetic sequencing technology, medium-throughput functional assays and the ability to develop syndrome-specific animal models will provide a more comprehensive understanding of how I(h) contributes to pathogenic mechanisms underlying human genetic epilepsy. We also discuss what is known about the pharmacological manipulation of HCN channels in the context of epilepsy and how this may help future efforts in developing HCN-channel-based therapy.