Epileptic seizures induce an immune response as far away from the brain as the eyes, according to a new study published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation.This suggests that measuring the immune response in the eyes could potentially be a new, non-invasive, way of detecting brain inflammation. It could also help our understanding of the relationship between inflammation and the generation of epileptic seizures in the brain.During the study, researchers from Lund University, in Sweden, induced temporal epileptic seizures in adult rodents. They then studied the eyes of the animals six hours, one week and seven weeks later.The researchers noticed that several immune factors were up-regulated in the epileptic focus, or area of the brain where the seizures start, as early as six hours after the seizures had taken place. They did not detect any increase in immune response or cell death in the eyes at six hours or one week; but when they analysed the eyes at seven weeks, they saw an increased number of microglia (a type of specialised immune cells found in the central nervous system). The team also observed an increase in the level of certain cytokines, which are small signalling molecules secreted by certain cells of the immune system.The authors conclude from their findings that epileptic seizures induce an immune response in the eye, and suggest that the measurement of inflammation in the eyes has potential as a non-invasive tool for detecting brain inflammation.Epileptic seizures have long been associated with an immune response in the brain. However, until now, it was not clear whether the immune response could extend to remote areas of the brain such as the eyes.Future work could potentially address whether people with temporal epilepsy experience visual problems and whether this correlates with inflammation in the brain and the eyes.Author: Dr Özge ÖzkayaClick here for more articles about brain science including genetics.
July 1st, 2016|