Mild brain cooling after head injury prevents epileptic seizures in lab study

December 21, 2012 by Susan Gregg & Leila Gray, University of Washington
EEGs, a measurement of electrical activity in the brain, superimposed over images of the brain. The red boxes call out a possible epileptic episode. Credit: Raimondo D’Ambrosio

(Medical Xpress)—Mild cooling of the brain after a head injury prevents the later development of epileptic seizures, according to an animal study reported this month in the  Annals of Neurology.

Epilepsy can result from genetics or brain damage. Traumatic head injury is the leading cause of acquired epilepsy in young adults. It is often difficult to manage with . The mechanisms  behind the onset of after are not known . There is currently no treatment to cure it, prevent it, or even limit its severity.

Color-coded temperature readings (digital thermography) from brain cooling devices. Credit: Raimondo D’Ambrosio

The multi-institutional research team used a of acquired epilepsy in which animals develop chronic spontaneous -the hallmark of epilepsy- after a contusive head injury similar to that causing epilepsy in humans.  The rats were randomized to either mock-cooling or cooling of the contused brain by no more than 2 Celsius degrees. This degree of cooling, the authors explained, is known to be safe and to decrease mortality of patients with head injury.  The rats  were then monitored for four months after injury and epilepsy was evaluated by intracranial EEG. The contused brain was cooled continuously with special headsets engineered to passively dissipate heat. No Peltier cells or other power sources for refrigeration were needed.

The investigators report that cooling by just 2 degrees celsius for 5 weeks beginning 3 days after injury virtually abolished the later development of epileptic . This effect persisted through the end of the study. The treatment induced no additional pathology or inflammation, and restored neuronal activity depressed by the injury.

"These findings demonstrate for the first time that prevention of epileptic seizures after traumatic brain brain injury is possible, and that epilepsy prophylaxis in patients could be achieved more easily than previously thought, said  the lead author of the study,  Raimondo D'Ambrosio, UW associate professor of neurological surgery.  He added that a clinical trial is required to verify the findings in head injury patients.

Explore further: Non-epileptic seizures may be misdiagnosed longer in veterans

Related Stories

Non-epileptic seizures may be misdiagnosed longer in veterans

September 5, 2011
Psychogenic non-epileptic seizures may go undiagnosed for much longer in veterans compared to civilians, according to a new study published in the September 6, 2011, print issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American ...

Surprising results from study of non-epileptic seizures

December 2, 2012
A Loyola University Medical Center neurologist is reporting surprising results of a study of patients who experience both epileptic and non-epileptic seizures.

Recommended for you

Research reveals atomic-level changes in ALS-linked protein

January 18, 2018
For the first time, researchers have described atom-by-atom changes in a family of proteins linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a group of brain disorders known as frontotemporal dementia and degenerative diseases ...

Fragile X finding shows normal neurons that interact poorly

January 18, 2018
Neurons in mice afflicted with the genetic defect that causes Fragile X syndrome (FXS) appear similar to those in healthy mice, but these neurons fail to interact normally, resulting in the long-known cognitive impairments, ...

How your brain remembers what you had for dinner last night

January 17, 2018
Confirming earlier computational models, researchers at University of California San Diego and UC San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues in Arizona and Louisiana, report that episodic memories are encoded in the hippocampus ...

Recording a thought's fleeting trip through the brain

January 17, 2018
University of California, Berkeley neuroscientists have tracked the progress of a thought through the brain, showing clearly how the prefrontal cortex at the front of the brain coordinates activity to help us act in response ...

Midbrain 'start neurons' control whether we walk or run

January 17, 2018
Locomotion comprises the most fundamental movements we perform. It is a complex sequence from initiating the first step, to stopping when we reach our goal. At the same time, locomotion is executed at different speeds to ...

A 'touching sight': How babies' brains process touch builds foundations for learning

January 16, 2018
Touch is the first of the five senses to develop, yet scientists know far less about the baby's brain response to touch than to, say, the sight of mom's face, or the sound of her voice.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.