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Brain-Immune Interactions Important in Epilepsy

Inhibiting interactions can reduce or prevent seizures, mouse study shows

MONDAY, Nov. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Interactions between immune cells and blood vessels in the brain contribute to the pathogenesis of epilepsy, and inhibiting these interactions can reduce or prevent seizures, according to research published online Nov. 23 in Nature Medicine.

Paolo F. Fabene, Ph.D., from the University of Verona in Italy, and colleagues used a mouse model of epilepsy (induced by pilocarpine) to examine the role of leukocyte-endothelial interactions.

The researchers found that seizures induced the expression of vascular cell adhesion molecules, causing leukocytes to adhere to blood vessels in the brain. Inhibiting these interactions markedly reduced seizures, and inhibiting them after acute seizures blocked the development of epilepsy. Depleting neutrophils also blocked seizures. Blocking leukocyte-vascular adhesion inhibited blood-brain barrier leakage, which the authors note is known to enhance neuronal excitability. In addition, brains of human patients with epilepsy showed a greater number of leukocytes than individuals without epilepsy.

"In conclusion, our results suggest that vascular inflammatory mechanisms and leukocyte-endothelial adhesion can contribute to the pathogenesis of seizures and epilepsy and show that inhibition of leukocyte-vascular interactions can have preventive as well as therapeutic effects in a mouse model of this debilitating disease," Fabene and colleagues write.

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