Epileptic Disorders


What are the effects of prolonged seizures in the brain? Volume 16, special issue 1, October 2014

1 Department of Neurological Science, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VT 05405, USA
2 Neurosciences Unit, UCL Institute of Child Health, London, UK
* Correspondence: Rod C Scott Department of Neurological Sciences, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Stafford Hall, Room 118C, 95 Carrigan Drive, Burlington,Vermont 05405, USA

Convulsive status epilepticus is the most common neurological emergency in children and is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. The morbidities include later development of epilepsy, cognitive impairment, and psychiatric impairments. There has been a long-standing hypothesis that these outcomes are, at least in part, a function of brain injury induced by the status epilepticus. There is evidence from animal models and prospective human studies that the hippocampus may be injured during febrile status epilepticus although this pathophysiological sequence remains uncommon. Potential mechanisms include excitotoxicity, ischaemia, and inflammation. Neuroprotective drugs reduce brain injury but have little impact on epileptogenesis or cognitive impairments. Anti-inflammatory treatments have given mixed results to date. Broad-spectrum anti-inflammatory agents, such as steroids, are potentially harmful, whereas prevention of leucocyte diapedesis across the blood brain barrier appears to have a positive outcome. Therefore, more studies dissecting the inflammatory process are required to establish the most effective strategies for translation into clinical practice. In addition to neuronal loss, cognitive impairments are related to neuronal re-organisation and disruption of neural networks underpinning cognition. Further understanding of these mechanisms may lead to novel therapies that prevent brain injury, but also therapies that may improve outcomes even if injury has occurred.