April 13, 2023

Association With Autoimmune Diseases Differs Between Epilepsy Types

Article published by AJMC

Researchers of a new study have characterized 2 distinct patterns of epilepsy syndromes and their association with autoimmune diseases, publishing their findings in Epileptic Disorders.

Collecting data from patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsies (IGEs) and mesial temporal lobe epilepsy with hippocampal sclerosis (MTLE-HS), the researchers of the single-center study found that the relationships between epilepsy and autoimmune diseases may be a result of the different etiopathogenetic mechanisms that underly seizure development in each syndrome.

“This study represents an initial step toward better understanding of the different associations among these comorbid conditions,” commented the researchers. “By identifying shared mechanisms underlying development of these conditions, potential mediators and biomarkers may be discovered to predict the occurrence of epilepsy and autoimmune diseases.”

Between 2016 and 2020, over 600 patients—422 with IGEs and 242 with MTLE-HS—were consecutively enrolled in the study. Across the groups, the prevalence of autoimmune diseases was comparable at approximately 5%. Patients with IGEs were, on average, 15 years younger than those with MTLE-HS and were an average of 16 years younger at the age of autoimmune disease onset (20 vs 36.7 years).

Approximately 1 in 3 patients with an IGE had an autoimmune disease diagnosis that preceded their epilepsy, while all but 1 patient with MTLE-HS received their epilepsy diagnosis before their autoimmune disease diagnosis. This finding, explained the researchers, highlights the different patterns of association that the 2 epilepsy syndromes have with autoimmune diseases, with IGEs having a bidirectional relationship and MTLE-HS having a unidirectional relationship.