February 27, 2018

Immune Response May Contribute to Pediatric Epilepsy

Irregular concentrations of T-cells in the brain contribute to the development of seizures in pediatric epilepsy, according to a Northwestern Medicine study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

The experiments suggest anti-inflammatory drugs should be considered for therapy, in addition to the anti-seizure drugs that are typically prescribed, according to Stephen D. Miller, PhD, the Judy Gugenheim Research Professor of Microbiology-Immunology and the senior author of the study.

“The initiation of epilepsy may not be immune-related, but the changes that are happening in the brain may lead to inflammatory responses that perpetuate the disease,” said Miller, also the director of the Interdepartmental Immunobiology Center and a professor of Dermatology.

Pediatric epilepsy affects about 6 in 1,000 children, some of whom suffer hundreds of seizures a month. The standard therapy is a regimen of anti-seizure drugs, but up to one-third of children with pediatric epilepsy don’t respond to the medications, according to Miller.