Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cooling may prevent trauma-induced epilepsy

Date:
February 21, 2013
Source:
Washington University in St. Louis
Summary:
In the weeks, months and years after a severe head injury, patients often experience epileptic seizures that are difficult to control. A new study in rats suggests that gently cooling the brain after injury may prevent these seizures.

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are currently testing the ability of this cooling grid to reduce seizures that cannot be controlled through medication or surgery. In a separate study, they showed that brain cooling reduced seizures in a rat model of epilepsy.
Credit: Matthew D. Smyth, MD

In the weeks, months and years after a severe head injury, patients often experience epileptic seizures that are difficult to control. A new study in rats suggests that gently cooling the brain after injury may prevent these seizures.

"Traumatic head injury is the leading cause of acquired epilepsy in young adults, and in many cases the seizures can't be controlled with medication," says senior author Matthew Smyth, MD, associate professor of neurological surgery and of pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. "If we can confirm cooling's effectiveness in human trials, this approach may give us a safe and relatively simple way to prevent epilepsy in these patients."

The researchers reported their findings in Annals of Neurology.

Cooling the brain to protect it from injury is not a new concept. Cooling slows down the metabolic activity of nerve cells, and scientists think this may make it easier for brain cells to survive the stresses of an injury.

Doctors currently cool infants whose brains may have had inadequate access to blood or oxygen during birth. They also cool some heart attack patients to reduce peripheral brain damage when the heart stops beating.

Smyth has been exploring the possibility of using cooling to prevent seizures or reduce their severity.

"Warmer brain cells seem to be more electrically active, and that may increase the likelihood of abnormal electrical discharges that can coalesce to form a seizure," Smyth says. "Cooling should have the opposite effect."

Smyth and colleagues at the University of Washington and the University of Minnesota test potential therapies in a rat model of brain injury. These rats develop chronic seizures weeks after the injury.

Researchers devised a headset that cools the rat brain. They were originally testing its ability to stop seizures when they noticed that cooling seemed to be not only stopping but also preventing seizures.

Scientists redesigned the study to focus on prevention. Under the new protocols, they put headsets on some of the rats that cooled their brains by less than 4 degrees Fahrenheit. Another group of rats wore headsets that did nothing. Scientists who were unaware of which rats they were observing monitored them for seizures during treatment and after the headsets were removed.

Rats that wore the inactive headset had progressively longer and more severe seizures weeks after the injury, but rats whose brains had been cooled only experienced a few very brief seizures as long as four months after injury.

Brain injury also tends to reduce cell activity at the site of the trauma, but the cooling headsets restored the normal activity levels of these cells.

The study is the first to reduce injury-related seizures without drugs, according to Smyth, who is director of the Pediatric Epilepsy Surgery program at St. Louis Children's Hospital.

"Our results show that the brain changes that cause this type of epilepsy happen in the days and weeks after injury, not at the moment of injury or when the symptoms of epilepsy begin," says Smyth. "If clinical trials confirm that cooling has similar effects in humans, it could change the way we treat patients with head injuries, and for the first time reduce the chance of developing epilepsy after brain injury."

Smyth and his colleagues have been testing cooling devices in humans in the operating room, and are planning a multi-institutional trial of an implanted focal brain cooling device to evaluate the efficacy of cooling on established seizures.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Washington University in St. Louis. The original article was written by Michael C. Purdy. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Raimondo D'Ambrosio, Clifford L. Eastman, Felix Darvas, Jason S. Fender, Derek R. Verley, Federico M. Farin, Hui-Wen Wilkerson, Nancy R. Temkin, John W. Miller, Jeffrey Ojemann, Steven M. Rothman, Matthew D. Smyth. Mild passive focal cooling prevents epileptic seizures after head injury in rats. Annals of Neurology, 2012; DOI: 10.1002/ana.23764

Cite This Page:

Washington University in St. Louis. "Cooling may prevent trauma-induced epilepsy." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130221091833.htm>.
Washington University in St. Louis. (2013, February 21). Cooling may prevent trauma-induced epilepsy. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130221091833.htm
Washington University in St. Louis. "Cooling may prevent trauma-induced epilepsy." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130221091833.htm (accessed August 23, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two US Ebola Patients Leave Hospital Free of the Disease

Two US Ebola Patients Leave Hospital Free of the Disease

AFP (Aug. 21, 2014) Two American missionaries who were sickened with Ebola while working in Liberia and were treated with an experimental drug are doing better and have left the hospital, doctors say on August 21, 2014. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) Contains graphic content. He's only 17. But Johntrell Bowles has wanted to be a doctor from a young age, despite the odds against him. He was recently the youngest participant in a cadaver program at the Indiana University NW medical school. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) It's unclear whether the American Ebola patients' recoveries can be attributed to an experimental drug or early detection and good medical care. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins