Neuro-inflammation is often a symptom of brain disease, but a new study suggests that it may also have a neurological cause.
Researchers found that people with neurological disorders such as epilepsy and autism have different patterns of inflammation in their brains.
Brain inflammation can have serious consequences, but it can also be useful, as it can lead to brain cell death.
“We have a great deal of data on the inflammatory changes in our brains,” said lead author Prof Richard Bouchard, from the University of Bristol.
Neuro-inflammatory changes Brain inflammation affects a wide range of processes, including memory, cognition, emotions, behaviour and mood. “
People with neurological diseases may experience a higher level of inflammation than others, so this information could be used to inform treatments for those with the condition.”
Neuro-inflammatory changes Brain inflammation affects a wide range of processes, including memory, cognition, emotions, behaviour and mood.
“Brain inflammation can be a useful indicator of disease because it indicates how the brain is functioning,” Prof Bouchards told the BBC.
“So if we can identify changes in the brain, we can make sure that treatments that target inflammation are effective.”
In a study, the researchers found that epilepsy patients had higher levels of brain inflammation in a brain region called the medial prefrontal cortex, which is involved in processing emotions and cognition.
“They had a greater level of the inflammatory biomarker IL-1beta, which we know is associated with cognitive impairment,” Prof Kelleher said.
“It was associated with impaired attention and memory in the epilepsy patients.”
Prof Bitchard said that the findings suggest that epilepsy is associated to a higher degree of brain dysfunction.
“The fact that the epilepsy is correlated to a larger number of inflammation biomarkers and the fact that this is correlated with cognitive deficits means we can look at the potential benefits of treating epilepsy patients with inflammation-reducing therapies,” he said.
This is important because epilepsy is linked to a range of conditions, including autism, Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease.
“Many of the patients we see with epilepsy are going through some form of neurodegenerative disease, which means that we may be able to use this information to help develop novel treatments for these conditions,” Prof Bechtold said.
The researchers hope that the information gathered from this study can help guide future research into the connection between inflammation and epilepsy.
“If we can establish that there are other important connections between brain inflammation and neurological disease that can be identified in people with epilepsy, then we can start to explore treatment strategies that can treat this condition in people who may be at risk of developing the disease,” he added.
In the future, the team plans to study the role of inflammation and inflammation-related diseases in different brain regions, such as the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex.