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Vitamin D Relieves Epilepsy Symptoms and Neuroinflammation in Juvenile Mice by Activating the mTOR Signaling Pathway via RAF1: Insights from Network Pharmacology and Molecular Docking Studies.

Epilepsy is a common neurological disorder, and the exploration of potential therapeutic drugs for its treatment is still ongoing. Vitamin D has emerged as a promising treatment due to its potential neuroprotective effects and anti-epileptic properties. This study aimed to investigate the effects of vitamin D on epilepsy and neuroinflammation in juvenile mice using network pharmacology and molecular docking, with a focus on the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway. Experimental mouse models of epilepsy were established through intraperitoneal injection of pilocarpine, and in vitro injury models of hippocampal neurons were induced by glutamate (Glu) stimulation. The anti-epileptic effects of vitamin D were evaluated both in vivo and in vitro. Network pharmacology and molecular docking analysis were used to identify potential targets and regulatory pathways of vitamin D in epilepsy. The involvement of the mTOR signaling pathway in the regulation of mouse epilepsy by vitamin D was validated using rapamycin (RAPA). The levels of inflammatory cytokines (TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6) were assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Gene and protein expressions were detected by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) and Western blot, respectively. The terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated deoxyuridine triphosphate nick end-labeling (TUNEL) staining was used to analyze the apoptosis of hippocampal neurons. In in vivo experiments, vitamin D reduced the Racine scores of epileptic mice, prolonged the latency of epilepsy, and inhibited the production of TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6 in the hippocampus. Furthermore, network pharmacology analysis identified RAF1 as a potential target of vitamin D in epilepsy, which was further confirmed by molecular docking analysis. Additionally, the mTOR signaling pathway was found to be involved in the regulation of mouse epilepsy by vitamin D. In in vitro experiments, Glu stimulation upregulated the expressions of RAF1 and LC3II/LC3I, inhibited mTOR phosphorylation, and induced neuronal apoptosis. Mechanistically, vitamin D activated the mTOR signaling pathway and alleviated mouse epilepsy via RAF1, while the use of the pathway inhibitor RAPA reversed this effect. Vitamin D alleviated epilepsy symptoms and neuroinflammation in juvenile mice by activating the mTOR signaling pathway via RAF1. These findings provided new insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying the anti-epileptic effects of vitamin D and further supported its use as an adjunctive therapy for existing anti-epileptic drugs.

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