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REVIEW: Stress-Associated Molecular and Cellular Hippocampal Mechanisms Common for Epilepsy and Comorbid Depressive Disorders

Natalia V. Gulyaeva1,2

1Institute of Higher Nervous Activity and Neurophysiology, Russian Academy of Sciences, 117485 Moscow, Russia

2Research and Clinical Center for Neuropsychiatry of Moscow Healthcare Department, 115419 Moscow, Russia

Received February 24, 2021; Revised March 30, 2021; Accepted March 30, 2021
The review discusses molecular and cellular mechanisms common to the temporal lobe epileptogenesis/epilepsy and depressive disorders. Comorbid temporal lobe epilepsy and depression are associated with dysfunction of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis. Excessive glucocorticoids disrupt the function and impair the structure of the hippocampus, a brain region key to learning, memory, and emotions. Selective vulnerability of the hippocampus to stress, mediated by the reception of glucocorticoid hormones secreted during stress, is the price of the high functional plasticity and pleiotropy of this limbic structure. Common molecular and cellular mechanisms include the dysfunction of glucocorticoid receptors, neurotransmitters, and neurotrophic factors, development of neuroinflammation, leading to neurodegeneration and loss of hippocampal neurons, as well as disturbances in neurogenesis in the subgranular neurogenic niche and formation of aberrant neural networks. These glucocorticoid-dependent processes underlie altered stress response and the development of chronic stress-induced comorbid pathologies, in particular, temporal lobe epilepsy and depressive disorders.
KEY WORDS: epilepsy, temporal lobe epilepsy, depression, hippocampus, glucocorticoids, stress, neuroinflammation, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical system, neurogenesis, neural networks

DOI: 10.1134/S0006297921060031