The role of P-glycoprotein (P-gp) and inwardly rectifying potassium (Kir) channels in sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP)

Auzmendi J., Akyuz E., Lazarowski A.

EPILEPSY & BEHAVIOR, vol.121, 2021 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 121
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2019.106590
  • Journal Name: EPILEPSY & BEHAVIOR
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, EMBASE, MEDLINE, Psycinfo
  • Yozgat Bozok University Affiliated: Yes


Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) is the major cause of death that affects patients with epilepsy. The risk of SUDEP increases according to the frequency and severity of uncontrolled seizures; therefore, SUDEP risk is higher in patients with refractory epilepsy (RE), in whom most antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) are ineffective for both seizure control and SUDEP prevention. Consequently, RE and SUDEP share a multidrug resistance (MDR) pheno-type, which is mainly associated with brain overexpression of ABC-transporters such as P-glycoprotein (P-gp). The activity of P-gp can also contribute to membrane depolarization and affect the normal function of neurons and cardiomyocytes. Other molecular regulators of membrane potential are the inwardly rectifying potassium channels (Kir), whose genetic variants have been related to both epilepsy and heart dysfunctions. Although it has been suggested that dysfunctions of the cardiac, respiratory, and brainstem arousal systems are the causes of SUDEP, the molecular basis for explaining its dysfunctions remain unknown. In rats, repetitive seizures or status epilepticus induced high expression of P-gp and loss Kir expression in the brain and heart, and promoted membrane depolarization, malignant bradycardia, and the high rate of mortality. Here we reviewed clinical and experimental evidences suggesting that abnormal expression of depolarizing/repolarizing factors as P-gp and Kir could favor persistent depolarization of membranes without any rapid functional recovery capacity. This condi-tion induced by convulsive stress could be the molecular mechanism leading to acquired severe bradycardia, as an ineffective heart response generating the appropriate scenario for SUDEP development. This article is part of the Special Issue & ldquo;NEWroscience 2018" (c) 2019 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.