Review: Cav2.3 R-type Voltage-Gated Ca2+ Channels - Functional Implications in Convulsive and Non-convulsive Seizure Activity

Carola Wormuth1, Andreas Lundt1, Christina Henseler1, Ralf Müller2, Karl Broich1, Anna Papazoglou1, Marco Weiergräber1, *
1 Department of Neuropsychopharmacology, Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM), Kurt-Georg-Kiesinger-Allee 3, 53175 Bonn, Germany
2 Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Cologne, Faculty of Medicine, Cologne, Germany

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© Wormuth et al.; Licensee Bentham Open

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International Public License (CC BY-NC 4.0) (, which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (Bundesinstitut für Arzneimittel und Medizinprodukte, BfArM), Kurt-Georg-Kiesinger-Allee 3, 53175 Bonn, Germany; Tel: 0049-228-99307-4358; Fax: 0049-228-99307-3896; E-mail:



Researchers have gained substantial insight into mechanisms of synaptic transmission, hyperexcitability, excitotoxicity and neurodegeneration within the last decades. Voltage-gated Ca2+ channels are of central relevance in these processes. In particular, they are key elements in the etiopathogenesis of numerous seizure types and epilepsies. Earlier studies predominantly targeted on Cav2.1 P/Q-type and Cav3.2 T-type Ca2+ channels relevant for absence epileptogenesis. Recent findings bring other channels entities more into focus such as the Cav2.3 R-type Ca2+ channel which exhibits an intriguing role in ictogenesis and seizure propagation. Cav2.3 R-type voltage gated Ca2+ channels (VGCC) emerged to be important factors in the pathogenesis of absence epilepsy, human juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME), and cellular epileptiform activity, e.g. in CA1 neurons. They also serve as potential target for various antiepileptic drugs, such as lamotrigine and topiramate.


This review provides a summary of structure, function and pharmacology of VGCCs and their fundamental role in cellular Ca2+ homeostasis. We elaborate the unique modulatory properties of Cav2.3 R-type Ca2+ channels and point to recent findings in the proictogenic and proneuroapoptotic role of Cav2.3 R-type VGCCs in generalized convulsive tonic–clonic and complex-partial hippocampal seizures and its role in non-convulsive absence like seizure activity.


Development of novel Cav2.3 specific modulators can be effective in the pharmacological treatment of epilepsies and other neurological disorders.

Keywords: Absence epilepsy, Afterdepolarisation, Ictal discharges, Low-threshold Ca2+ spike, Plateau potentials, R-type, Seizure.