Antioxidants and their role in epilepsy




Clin Chim Acta

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A seizure disorder includes any condition in which there are repeated episodes of seizures of any type. Damage to brain cells can disrupt the normally smooth-running pattern of electrical activity in the brain by causing an electrical overload. This can create a seizure, which causes a sudden change in the individual's consciousness and/or change in motor activity. Epilepsy (idiopathic seizure disorder) is a term used when the seizure disorder has no identifiable cause such as brain disease. A seizure disorder affects about 0.5% of the population, and may affect people of any age. The symptoms, frequency, intensity, and types of seizures vary greatly from person to person. Those whose condition is controlled by medication may not experience seizures at all.

Seizures may occur in a generalized form (affecting all or most of the brain) or in a partial form. Epilepsy is typically generalized (except in some cases that develop in childhood and have a specific focus). Generalized seizures include variations of what are referred to as generalized tonic-clonic seizures and petit mal seizures. Partial seizures include focal seizures (during which the person remains alert but there are abnormal movements or sensations) and partial complex seizures (during which the abnormal movement or sensation is accompanied by changes in consciousness).

Researchers in India have conducted a small human study to determine the oxidative stress status of patients suffering from epilepsy. A total of 29 epileptic patients and 50 normal control patients were recruited for the study. The antioxidant status and the level of lipid peroxidation were measured and recorded in both groups. Ten epileptic patients who had remained seizure free for one year were further evaluated. The results of this study showed that lipid peroxidation was increased in patients with epilepsy and levels of specific antioxidants, vitamins A, C and E, were lower than in the normal control group. This led the authors to conclude that “the antioxidant status in blood of epileptic patients which was low compared to controls, improved after treatment, suggesting that free radicals may be implicated in epilepsy.”1


1. Sudha K, et al. Oxidative stress and antioxidants in epilepsy. Clin Chim Acta. 2001 Jan;303(1-2):19-24.