Purpose: To determine the prevalence of autoantibodies in patients with epilepsy and to find a possible relationship between antinuclear antibodies (ANA) and/or anticardiolipin (aCL) antibodies and epilepsy.
Patients and methods: One hundred sixty-three consecutive, unselected patients followed at the Centre Saint-Paul, a French medical center specialized in epilepsy, were included in the study. IgG and IgM class aCL antibodies were measured by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). IgG class ANA was detected by an indirect immunofluorescence technique with Hep2 cells as the substrate. Sera from 100 healthy blood donors, matched for age and sex, were used as controls.
Results: In 31 sera, IgG class a aCL antibodies were detected at a value higher than 17 GPL unit (19%, P = 0.0003); 10 of them had a value higher than 35 GPL unit. IgM class aCL antibodies were not detected at a significant value. For 6 of the 31 sera, there was a beta 2-glycoprotein I dependence. None of the patients with aCL antibodies in the serum had a past history of deep venous or arterial thrombosis. ANA were detected in the sera from 41 patients (25%, P < 0.005). The presence of autoantibodies in the serum was not statistically dependent on the type of epilepsy, the kind of antiepileptic drug, or the age or sex of the patients.
Conclusions: Our study suggests that there is a relationship between epilepsy and aCL antibodies, even in the patients without systemic lupus erythematosus. Large prospective studies are needed to define the role of the aCL antibodies and ANA in pathophysiology of epilepsy.