New studies offer insights into autism/epilepsy link
A quartet of new studies have offered new insights into the established link between autism and epilepsy, shedding fresh light on biological mechanisms that could help advance treatments for patients with both disorders.
Presented at the American Epilepsy Society’s recent annual meeting, the research could help to inform future treatment decisions when dealing with these commonly comorbid conditions, with epilepsy affecting nearly 30 per cent of people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
The first study was led by Jennifer Avallone and retrospectively examined the video electroencephalography (EEG) findings and clinical records of 53 children and adults diagnosed with both epilepsy and autism.
Abnormal EEG findings were seen in 50 of the 53 records studied, suggesting this could be a valuable tool for managing the conditions.
Dr Avallone said: “Exploring the variations in EEG activity between and during seizures, and how those variations relate to genetic and behavioural findings in people with ASD, could greatly assist with the management of both conditions.”
The second study was led by Andrey Mazarati and implicated the immune molecules interleukin-6 and interleukin-1-beta as contributing to the autism-epilepsy connection, while the third, led by Mirret El-Hagrassy, established an association between autism and focal epilepsy, electrical status epilepticus of slow wave sleep and multiple neurocognitive comorbidities.
Meanwhile, the final study was carried out by the Hotchkiss Brain Institute in Calgary and involved the creation of a new mouse research model of both autism and epilepsy to explore the underlying processes that contribute to the relationship between the conditions.
Through this research, it was confirmed that certain immune events in infancy can increase brain excitability, which in turn enhances seizure susceptibility and results in aberrant EEG activity.
Furthermore, it was noted that ASD-like behaviours were maintained in adult mice that received this early immune challenge, but not in a control group.
Posted by Bob Jones