Chemicals released by the brain's immune system attempting to repair traumatic head injuries may be the cause behind chronic seizures, a new study has revealed.
Researchers from University of Colorado at Boulder have revealed that micro-glial cells may play a major role in seizures.
They found that glial cells, which are supportive cells that also constitute a major part of the brain's immune system, cluster within areas in the brain when a severe brain injury has occurred.
"When there has been serious damage to the brain, such as a head injury or infection, the immune system is activated and tries to counteract the damage and repair it," said CU-Boulder psychology and neuroscience Professor Daniel Barth.
"These glial cells migrate to the damaged area and release chemicals called cytokines that, unfortunately, also profoundly increase the excitability of the neurons that they are near.
"In our new study, we showed for the first time that glial cells moving in and secreting these cytokines cause the neurons in the area to become excitable enough to cause seizures," he added.
Barth hopes that the findings may help prevent one of the most common forms of adult epilepsy, called acquired epilepsy, which is often found in people who have suffered a brain injury or infection.
He said if the brain's initial immunity reaction could be temporarily shut down, this could prevent the development of acquired epilepsy.
"So instead of giving anti-seizure drugs, which have no effect in preventing or subsequently treating post-traumatic epilepsy, we could give some anti-immune drugs which may actually stop the process of developing epilepsy in the first place," Barth added.
The study appears in the journal Brain.