In a recent article, Aarli1 discussed evidence that immune mechanisms are involved in the pathogenesis of some forms of epilepsy. The article focused on possible antibody-mediated effects in epilepsy. We'd like to remind readers of yet another possible way that the immune system is involved in the pathogenesis of epilepsy.
Cytokines are a heterogeneous group of polypeptide mediators associated classically with activation of the immune system and inflammatory responses, but they also exert diverse actions on the peripheral and central nervous system. A growing amount of experimental and clinical evidence suggests that cytokines are also involved in epilepsy as disease-modifying molecules. Experimental studies suggest that interleukin 1β (IL-1β) prolongs the duration of kainic acid–induced seizures and seems to promote neuronal damage,2 whereas its effects are blocked by an IL-1 receptor antagonist3 (IL-1RA). Kainic acid causes cellular damage in the hippocampus, and cytokine expression may reflect this neural injury.
Peltola J, Eriksson K, Keränen T. Cytokines and Seizures. Arch Neurol. 2001;58(7):1168-1169. doi: