Brain injury plus immune response may lead to post-traumatic epilepsy

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The body’s immune system may play a role in post-traumatic epilepsy following a traumatic brain injury, new research from the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine suggests.

Post-traumatic epilepsy is when someone who didn’t previously suffer from epilepsy has at least two seizures at least a week (and sometimes as long as months or years) after a traumatic brain injury,

Under normal circumstances, the brain is protected from most pathogens and the immune system by the blood-brain barrier.

In cases of brain trauma, this protection may disappear and the inflammation from the injury may call in the immune system. Evidence suggests that this reaction leads to seizures.

By selectively targeting components of the immune response that can suppress inflammation after a traumatic brain injury, researchers might be able to prevent post-traumatic epilepsy.

To examine that idea, M. Karen Newell Rogers, the director of the Scott & White/Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine Center for Cell Death and Differentiation, who trained as an immunologist, is collaborating with Lee Shapiro, an associate professor in the Department of Surgery at the College of Medicine and the Neuroscience Institute at Baylor Scott & White.

The duo has received a two-year grant from the Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy to study molecular mechanisms involved in inflammation and how they contribute to epilepsy.

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