w-carbohydrate diet that was in use in the past to treat epilepsy. (Agencies)
Metabolism controls the processes that inhibit brain activity, such as that involved in convulsions, said the research.
“Inhibition in the brain is commonly targeted in clinical practice,” said Derek Bowie, Canada Research Chair in receptor pharmacology at McGill University.
“For example, drugs that alleviate anxiety or control epilepsy work by strengthening brain inhibition. These pharmacological approaches can have their drawbacks, since patients often complain of unpleasant side effects,” Bowie added.
The findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, may explain why the seizures of many epilepsy patients can be controlled by a specially-formulated diet.
The researchers are trying to understand why seizures in many epilepsy patients - especially young children - can be treated with a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet, earlier known as ketogenic diet.
From 1920s until 1950s, the ketogenic diet was widely used to treat epilepsy patients.
With the introduction of anticonvulsant drugs in the 1950s, the dietary approach fell out of favour with doctors.
But because anticonvulsant drugs do not work for 20-30 percent patients, there has been resurgence in use of the ketogenic diet.
The new findings uncover a link between how brain cells make energy and how the same cells signal information - processes that neuroscientists have often assumed to be distinct and separate.
“Since our study shows that brain cells have their own means to strengthen inhibition, our work points to potentially new ways in which to control a number of important neurological conditions including epilepsy,” said Bowie.
w-carbohydrate diet that was in use in the past to treat epilepsy.