Immune-mediated epilepsies

Epilepsia. 2011 May;52 Suppl 3(Suppl 3):5-11. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2011.03029.x.


A pathogenic role of immunity in epilepsies has long been suggested based on observations of the efficacy of immune-modulating treatments and, more recently, by the finding of inflammation markers including autoantibodies in individuals with a number of epileptic disorders. Clinical and experimental data suggest that both innate and adaptive immunity may be involved in epilepsy. Innate immunity represents an immediate, nonspecific host response against pathogens via activation of resident brain immune cells and inflammatory mediators. These are hypothesized to contribute to seizures and epileptogenesis. Adaptive immunity employs activation of antigen-specific B and T lymphocytes or antibodies in the context of viral infections and autoimmune disorders. In this article we critically review the evidence for pathogenic roles of adaptive immune responses in several types of epilepsy, and discuss potential mechanisms and therapeutic targets. We highlight future directions for preclinical and clinical research that are required for improved diagnosis and treatment of immune-mediated epilepsies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / complications
  • Autoimmune Diseases / diagnosis
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • Encephalitis / complications
  • Encephalitis / diagnosis
  • Encephalitis / immunology
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy / etiology
  • Epilepsy / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / physiology


  • Inflammation Mediators