Contemplating stem cell therapy for epilepsy-induced neuropsychiatric symptoms.

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Epilepsy is a debilitating disease that impacts millions of people worldwide. While unprovoked seizures characterize its cardinal symptom, an important aspect of epilepsy that remains to be addressed is the neuropsychiatric component. It has been documented for millennia in paintings and literature that those with epilepsy can suffer from bouts of aggression, depression, and other psychiatric ailments. Current treatments for epilepsy include the use of antiepileptic drugs and surgical resection. Antiepileptic drugs reduce the overall firing of the brain to mitigate the rate of seizure occurrence. Surgery aims to remove a portion of the brain that is suspected to be the source of aberrant firing that leads to seizures. Both options treat the seizure-generating neurological aspect of epilepsy, but fail to directly address the neuropsychiatric components. A promising new treatment for epilepsy is the use of stem cells to treat both the biological and psychiatric components. Stem cell therapy has been shown efficacious in treating experimental models of neurological disorders, including Parkinson's disease, and neuropsychiatric diseases, such as depression. Additional research is necessary to see if stem cells can treat both neurological and neuropsychiatric aspects of epilepsy. Currently, there is no animal model that recapitulates all the clinical hallmarks of epilepsy. This could be due to difficulty in characterizing the neuropsychiatric component of the disease. In advancing stem cell therapy for treating epilepsy, experimental testing of the safety and efficacy of allogeneic and autologous transplantation will require the optimization of cell dosage, delivery, and timing of transplantation in a clinically relevant model of epilepsy with both neurological and neuropsychiatric symptoms of the disease as the primary outcome measures.



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Medicine and Health Sciences




Department of Surgery, Fellows and Residents, Department of Surgery Residents

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