Clinical biochemistry of epilepsy. I. Nature of the disease and a review of the chemical findings in epilepsy.


Natelson S, Miletich DJ, Seals CF, Visintine DJ, Albrecht RF.




Clin Chem


In idiopathic or generalized epilepsy, serum glucose and cholesterol concentrations tend to be low, especially just before the seizure. Glucose tolerance curves are abnormal and variable. The electrolyte balance is disturbed, and epileptics tend to go readily into alkalosis. Serum [Na+] is usually unaffected, but [K+] is normal to low between attacks and increases during and after the seizure. Serum [Cl-] is usually high just before the seizure. Epileptics are generally mildly hypocalcemic, especially in the period before the seizure. Serum urea and nonprotein nitrogen values are low between paroxysms but increase after the seizure. Serum protein concentration is usually normal. Stress, which releases epinephrine and corticotropin, results in high serum citrate concentration, which probably contributes to decreased serum [Ca2+] just before a seizure. In the healthy individual, any increase in serum citrate is accompanied by increasing [Ca2+]. In the rabbit, convulsions can be induced with corticotropin, a result of increased serum citrate concentration coupled with a decrease in [Ca2+]. The net result is severe hypo-ionic-calcemia. A similar phenomenon has been reported in a few humans. Administration of insulin causes serum citrate concentrations to decrease. Apparently, the dynamic system that controls glucose and lipid metabolism, and thus electrolyte balance, through the hormones epinephrine, corticotropin, insulin, glucagon, calcitonin, and parathormone, is abnormal in the epileptic.