This article provides an overview of neuroimaging biomarkers in experimental epileptogenesis and refractory epilepsy. Neuroimaging represents a gold standard and clinically translatable technique to identify neuropathological changes in epileptogenesis and longitudinally monitor its progression after a precipitating injury. Neuroimaging studies, along with molecular studies from animal models, have greatly improved our understanding of the neuropathology of epilepsy, such as the hallmark hippocampus sclerosis. Animal models are effective for differentiating the different stages of epileptogenesis. Neuroimaging in experimental epilepsy provides unique information about anatomic, functional, and metabolic alterations linked to epileptogenesis. Recently, several in vivo biomarkers for epileptogenesis have been investigated for characterizing neuronal loss, inflammation, blood-brain barrier alterations, changes in neurotransmitter density, neurovascular coupling, cerebral blood flow and volume, network connectivity, and metabolic activity in the brain. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a sensitive method for detecting structural and functional changes in the brain, especially to identify region-specific neuronal damage patterns in epilepsy. Positron emission tomography (PET) and single-photon emission computerized tomography are helpful to elucidate key functional alterations, especially in areas of brain metabolism and molecular patterns, and can help monitor pathology of epileptic disorders. Multimodal procedures such as PET-MRI integrated systems are desired for refractory epilepsy. Validated biomarkers are warranted for early identification of people at risk for epilepsy and monitoring of the progression of medical interventions.
Keywords: MRI; PET; SPECT; biomarkers; epilepsy; epileptogenesis; imaging; seizures.