Neuroendocrinological aspects of epilepsy: important issues and trends in future research

Epilepsy Behav. 2011 Sep;22(1):94-102. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2011.02.009. Epub 2011 Mar 30.


Neuroendocrine research in epilepsy focuses on the interface among neurology, endocrinology, gynecology/andrology and psychiatry as it pertains to epilepsy. There are clinically important reciprocal interactions between hormones and the brain such that neuroactive hormones can modulate neuronal excitability and seizure occurrence while epileptiform discharges can disrupt hormonal secretion and promote the development of reproductive disorders. An understanding of these interactions and their mechanisms is important to the comprehensive management of individuals with epilepsy. The interactions are relevant not only to the management of seizure disorder but also epilepsy comorbidities such as reproductive dysfunction, hyposexuality and emotional disorders. This review focuses on some of the established biological underpinnings of the relationship and their clinical relevance. It identifies gaps in our knowledge and areas of promising research. The research has led to ongoing clinical trials to develop hormonal therapies for the treatment of epilepsy. The review also focuses on complications of epilepsy treatment with antiepileptic drugs. Although antiepileptic drugs have been the mainstay of epilepsy treatment, they can also have some adverse effects on sexual and reproductive function as well as bone density. As longevity increases, the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis becomes an increasingly more important topic, especially for individuals with epilepsy. The differential effects of antiepileptic drugs on bone density and their various mechanisms of action are reviewed and some guidelines and future directions for prevention of osteoporosis and treatment are presented.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anticonvulsants / pharmacology*
  • Bone Density / drug effects
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Epilepsy / drug therapy
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / physiology*
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuroendocrinology / trends
  • Osteoporosis / prevention & control*
  • Steroids / physiology
  • Steroids / therapeutic use


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • Steroids