More Neuroscience Awesomeness and A Challenge for Librarians!

In my neuroscience class, we’ve now moved away from developmental neuroscience and into what I find way more interesting and the real reason I wanted to take the course: molecular neuroscience.  For the next three weeks, we’ll be learning how nerves communicate with each other.  Mostly this is through different channels that send stuff like ions and neurotransmitters in and out of cells.  We had a guest speaker who specializes in genetic neurological diseases, and she focused her talk specifically on what are called “channelopathies.”  That is, genetic diseases in which symptoms are caused by problems with these nerve channels.  Some of these problems are common – for example, many types of migraine are caused by channelopathies – but some are rare and super bizarre.

Here’s one of the rare and super bizarre ones the lecturer told us about: periodic paralysis is a condition in which the patient becomes temporarily but completely paralyzed, and then afterwards, they’re totally fine.  The paralysis can be brought on by all different kinds of things – stress, excitement, etc.  The lecturer told us about a really strange case of familial periodic paralysis that was found in a large family in Ireland.  Genetically, it’s autosomal dominant, meaning that if one parent has it, the children have a 50% chance of developing it.  So as one would expect, about half of this family is affected.  The trigger for this particular familial periodic paralysis is overeating.  The lecturer said “think of the gatherings this family must have.  They all get together and eat a big meal, and then half of them are paralyzed!”  Can you imagine, half of a family falling over paralyzed after dinner and then getting up and going home a few hours later like nothing ever happened?  Wouldn’t that make for some awkward family reunions?  Since the condition isn’t dangerous, I think it’s okay if we laugh a little bit at that image, right?  (Obviously familial periodic paralysis is not funny, and I’m definitely not making fun of it.  But don’t you have to admit that you’re wondering how different your family gatherings might have been had half of you been paralyzed for awhile after dinner?)

This family and their condition intrigued me so much that as soon as I got home, I went to PubMed to see if I could find the case in the literature (I really can’t help it…I’m a librarian), but my searching has turned up nothing so far.  Therefore I am challenging the medical librarians out there to find me a case report.  If you find it, you will win….I don’t know, honor and glory.  🙂  So to run down again, here’s what we know:

  • autosomal dominant
  • channelopathy (I think she said on the potassium ion channel, which would make sense because I found lots of cases of hyperkalemic periodic paralysis)
  • familial periodic paralysis
  • overeating
  • probably an Irish family (the lecturer did specify Irish, but as every librarian knows, people often misremember these kinds of details, so probably best not to rely on this particular piece of information)

Alright, go! 🙂

(And by the way, if no one finds this within a week, I’ll email the guest lecturer and ask, but let’s try to save me the embarrassment of having to compose that bizarre email, shall we?)

2 comments

  1. Wendy H. says:

    I wasn’t able to find exactly what you’re looking for but these seemed just as interesting 🙂 Great challenge!

    PubMed:

    1: Vilarinho S, Siegel MD. Paralysis caused by a large carbohydrate meal. J
    Postgrad Med. 2012 Jan-Mar;58(1):60-1. doi: 10.4103/0022-3859.93255. PubMed PMID:
    22387651.

    2: Hirano M, Kokunai Y, Nagai A, Nakamura Y, Saigoh K, Kusunoki S, Takahashi MP.
    A novel mutation in the calcium channel gene in a family with hypokalemic
    periodic paralysis. J Neurol Sci. 2011 Oct 15;309(1-2):9-11. doi:
    10.1016/j.jns.2011.07.046. Epub 2011 Aug 19. PubMed PMID: 21855088.

    3: Feldman ML, Hadfield S. Pot paresis: marijuana and a case of hypokalemic
    periodic paralysis. J Emerg Med. 2009 Apr;36(3):236-8. Epub 2007 Aug 2. PubMed
    PMID: 17976782.

    4: El-Hennawy AS, Nesa M, Mahmood AK. Thyrotoxic hypokalemic periodic paralysis
    triggered by high carbohydrate diet. Am J Ther. 2007 Sep-Oct;14(5):499-501.
    PubMed PMID: 17890941.

  2. Paul wasbrekke says:

    I have periodic paralysis from my dads side of the family he is Norwegian out of the three siblings I have it more often then my older brother and sister which type I don’t know exactly when I was young it would only last 15-30 min as I have gotten older it can linger for hours excitement will cause it smashing a finger that burst of adrenaline sets mine off quickly high carb meals will but it’s always brought on by something after my siblings and I all get it when we r coming down with the flu or getting sick good luck with your research it’s a very awkward thing to explain when u have it especially at work people will think u r drunk or on drugs because it affects your speech very bad with the onset

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