Virus-Induced Epilepsy vs. Epilepsy Patients Acquiring Viral Infection: Unravelling the Complex Relationship for Precision Treatment

Int J Mol Sci. 2024 Mar 27;25(7):3730. doi: 10.3390/ijms25073730.


The intricate relationship between viruses and epilepsy involves a bidirectional interaction. Certain viruses can induce epilepsy by infecting the brain, leading to inflammation, damage, or abnormal electrical activity. Conversely, epilepsy patients may be more susceptible to viral infections due to factors, such as compromised immune systems, anticonvulsant drugs, or surgical interventions. Neuroinflammation, a common factor in both scenarios, exhibits onset, duration, intensity, and consequence variations. It can modulate epileptogenesis, increase seizure susceptibility, and impact anticonvulsant drug pharmacokinetics, immune system function, and brain physiology. Viral infections significantly impact the clinical management of epilepsy patients, necessitating a multidisciplinary approach encompassing diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of both conditions. We delved into the dual dynamics of viruses inducing epilepsy and epilepsy patients acquiring viruses, examining the unique features of each case. For virus-induced epilepsy, we specify virus types, elucidate mechanisms of epilepsy induction, emphasize neuroinflammation's impact, and analyze its effects on anticonvulsant drug pharmacokinetics. Conversely, in epilepsy patients acquiring viruses, we detail the acquired virus, its interaction with existing epilepsy, neuroinflammation effects, and changes in anticonvulsant drug pharmacokinetics. Understanding this interplay advances precision therapies for epilepsy during viral infections, providing mechanistic insights, identifying biomarkers and therapeutic targets, and supporting optimized dosing regimens. However, further studies are crucial to validate tools, discover new biomarkers and therapeutic targets, and evaluate targeted therapy safety and efficacy in diverse epilepsy and viral infection scenarios.

Keywords: anticonvulsant drug pharmacokinetics; anticonvulsant drugs; clinical management; epilepsy patients; neuroinflammation; seizure susceptibility; virus-induced epilepsy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use
  • Biomarkers
  • Epilepsy* / drug therapy
  • Epilepsy* / etiology
  • Humans
  • Neuroinflammatory Diseases
  • Virus Diseases* / complications
  • Virus Diseases* / drug therapy
  • Viruses*


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Biomarkers

Grants and funding

This research was financed by Fundo Europeu de Desenvolvimento Regional (FEDER) funds through the COMPETE 2020 Operational Programme for Competitiveness and Internationalisation (POCI), Portugal 2020, and by Portuguese funds through Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT) in the framework of projects IF/00092/2014/CP1255/CT0004 and CHAIR in Onco-Innovation from Faculty of Medicine, University of Porto (FMUP).