Over the past decade enhanced activation of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR)-signaling cascade has been identified in focal malformations of cortical development (MCD) subtypes, which have been collectively referred to as “mTORopathies.” Mutations in mTOR regulatory genes (e.g., TSC1, TSC2, AKT3, DEPDC5) have been associated with several focal MCD highly associated with epilepsy such as tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), hemimegalencephaly (HME; brain malformation associated with dramatic enlargement of one brain hemisphere), and cortical dysplasia. mTOR plays important roles in the regulation of cell division, growth, and survival, and, thus, aberrant activation of the cascade during cortical development can cause dramatic alterations in cell size, cortical lamination, and axon and dendrite outgrowth often observed in focal MCD. Although it is widely believed that structural alterations induced by hyperactivated mTOR signaling are critical for epileptogenesis, newer evidence suggests that mTOR activation on its own may enhance neuronal excitability. Clinical trials with mTOR inhibitors have shown efficacy in the treatment of seizures associated with focal MCD.
Aberrant activation of mTOR signaling dramatically alters cortical brain development and is associated with epilepsy. mTOR inhibitors have shown efficacy in the treatment of seizures in clinical trials.