Anti-epilepsy drugs can cause inflammations

by Dr. Julia Weiler
Two types of glial cells: astroglia are dyed green, microglia red. The nuclei are highlighted blue. Credit: RUB, Bild: Dambach

Physicians at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) have been investigating if established anti-epilepsy drugs have anti-inflammatory or pro-inflammatory properties – an effect for which these pharmaceutical agents are not usually tested. One of the substances tested caused stronger inflammations, while another one inhibited them. As inflammatory reactions in the brain may be the underlying cause for epileptic disorders, it is vital to take the trigger for the disorder under consideration when selecting drugs for treatment, as the researchers concluded.

They published their report in the journal Epilepsia.

Glial cells play a crucial role in the nervous system

Hannes Dambach from the Department for Neuroanatomy and Molecular Brain Research, together with a team of colleagues, studied how anti-epilepsy drugs affect the survival of glial in cultures. Glial cells are the largest cell group in the brain; they are crucial for supplying neurons with nutrients and affect immune and inflammatory responses. The question of how glial cells are affected by anti-epilepsy drugs had previously not been studied in depth. The RUB work group Clinical Neuroanatomy, headed by Prof Dr Pedro Faustmann, analysed four substances: , gabapentin, phenytoin and carbamazepine.

Four anti-epilepsy drugs affect glial cells in different ways

Glial cells treated by the researchers with valproic adic and gabapentin had better survival chances than those treated with phenytoin and carbamazepine. However, carbamazepine had a positive effect, too: it reduced inflammatory responses. Valproic acid, on the other hand, turned out to be pro-inflammatory. In how far the anti-epilepsy drugs affected inflammations was also determined by the applied dose. Consequently, different drugs affected – and hence indirectly the neurons – in different ways.

Inflammatory responses should be taken under consideration in clinical studies

"Clinical studies should focus not only on the question in how far anti-epilepsy drugs affect the severity and frequency of epileptic seizures," says Pedro Faustmann. "It is also necessary to test them with regard to the role they play in in the central nervous system." Thus, doctors could take the underlying inflammatory condition under consideration when selecting the right anti-epilepsy drug.

Epilepsy may have different causes

In Germany, between 0.5 and 1 percent of the population suffer from epilepsy that requires drug treatment. The disease may have many causes: genetic predisposition, disorders of the central nervous system after meningitis, traumatic brain injury and stroke. Inflammatory responses may also be caused by damage to the .

More information: H. Dambach, D. Hinkerohe, N. Prochnow, M.N. Stienen, Z. Moinfar, C.G. Haase, A. Hufnagel, P.M. Faustmann (2013): Glia and epilepsy: Experimental investigation of antiepileptic drugs in an astroglia/microglia co-culture model of inflammation, Epilepsia, DOI: 10.1111/epi.12473

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New direction for epilepsy treatment

Mar 28, 2011

If common anticonvulsant drugs fail to manage epileptic seizures, then perhaps the anti-inflammatory route is the way to go. That's according to Mattia Maroso and colleagues from the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological ...

Recommended for you

Obama addresses West Africans on facts about Ebola

13 minutes ago

President Barack Obama urged West Africans on Tuesday to wear gloves and masks when caring for Ebola patients or burying anyone who died of the disease. He also discouraged the traditional burial practice ...

Gluten-free diet benefits asymptomatic EmA+ adults

16 minutes ago

(HealthDay)—Asymptomatic individuals with endomysial antibodies (EmA) benefit from a gluten-free diet (GFD), according to a study published in the September issue of Gastroenterology.

Another US health worker infected with Ebola

34 minutes ago

A third American health worker has tested positive for the Ebola virus while working with patients in West Africa, the Christian missionary group SIM said Tuesday.

UN implores all countries to help on Ebola

2 hours ago

The international group Doctor Without Borders warned Tuesday that the world is 'losing the battle' against Ebola, while U.N. officials implored all countries to quickly step up their response by contributing health experts ...

Travel restrictions could worsen Ebola crisis: experts

7 hours ago

Travel restrictions could worsen West Africa's Ebola epidemic, limiting medical and food supplies and keeping out much-needed doctors, virologists said Tuesday as the disease continued its deadly spread.

User comments