The role of cytokines in seizures: interleukin (IL)-$1{\beta}$, IL-1Ra, IL-8, and IL-10

  • Youn, Youngah (Department of Pediatrics, Seoul St. Mary's Hospital, The Catholic University of Korea College of Medicine) ;
  • Sung, In Kyung (Department of Pediatrics, Seoul St. Mary's Hospital, The Catholic University of Korea College of Medicine) ;
  • Lee, In Goo (Department of Pediatrics, Seoul St. Mary's Hospital, The Catholic University of Korea College of Medicine)
  • Received : 2013.02.15
  • Accepted : 2013.04.01
  • Published : 2013.07.15


Brain insults, including neurotrauma, infection, and perinatal injuries such as hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, generate inflammation in the brain. These inflammatory cascades induce a wide spectrum of cytokines, which can cause neuron degeneration, have neurotoxic effects on brain tissue, and lead to the development of seizures, even if they are subclinical and occur at birth. Cytokines are secreted by the glial cells of the central nervous system and they function as immune system mediators. Cytokines can be proinflammatory or anti-inflammatory. Interleukin (IL)-$1{\beta}$ and IL-8 are proinflammatory cytokines that activate additional cytokine cascades and increase seizure susceptibility and organ damage, whereas IL-1 receptor antagonist and IL-10 act as anti-inflammatory cytokines that have protective and anticonvulsant effects. Therefore, the immune system and its associated inflammatory reactions appear to play an important role in brain damage. Whether cytokine release is relevant for the processes of epileptogenesis and antiepileptogenesis, and whether epileptogenesis could be prevented by immunomodulatory treatment should be addressed in future clinical studies. Furthermore, early detection of brain damage and early intervention are essential for the prevention of disease progression and further neurological complications. Therefore, cytokines might be useful as biomarkers for earlier detection of brain damage in high-risk infants.


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