New technological developments could help to provide patients with
earlier detection of epilepsy through noninvasive means. A study discussed in Neurology Times delved into the usage of “high-resolution magic angle spinning proton magnetic resonance spectrometry (MRS) along with metabolomic-genomic-histological analyses of electrically mapped human cortical regions, cDNA microarrays, and histological analysis”. The researchers using this technique discovered an altered metabolomic-genomic structure.
Findings from the Study
The study used MRI technology to look at “multiple metabolites in epileptic versus nonepileptic brain tissue.” They were then able to locate areas of the human brain that had epileptic spikes of varying magnitudes. They then divided each of those pieces of tissue so they could perform a histological analysis and a molecular analysis.
They found that in the epileptic brain regions, there was a “chronically altered metabolic state.” The tissues that had levels of epileptic electrical brain activity that were high also happened to be low in lactate. This finding was surprising to the researchers, as they had anticipated that the opposite would be true since seizures can cause “induced lactate systemically.”
Once they had those findings, they knew that they would have to reassess their thoughts and determine what it was that was different about those areas and the metabolic states. They found that there were also higher levels of choline, phosphocreatine, and creatine in those areas. When they combined the data, they had gathered from those samples, the biomarker profile was “highly specific for epileptic brain tissues.” In addition, it shows that an “abnormal metabolic and vascular state that could underlie the epileptic condition.”
What Does This Mean for the Future?
While the research into this area is still in the beginning stages, and the researchers know that there needs to be more studies to help enlighten them further, they are looking forward to what it could mean. If the approach they are using for these biomarkers continues to show success, they believe that it could be possible to use to identify regions of the brain that are epileptic without needing the patient to undergo any type of invasive procedure. Currently, the only way that they can get a read on the areas of the brain that are epileptic is through an EEG, but this method could provide more information that can be used by the specialists.
The methods that are being used today can see the brain lesions. However, they cannot see the epileptic activities that occur there. While the scalp EEG is noninvasive, it simply does not have the ability to look at epileptic waveforms. The only time that it can get a good look at those waveforms is when they have already become large. For that reason, the invasive process of intracranial brain scanning is the current method used.
The study was small and included just nine patients. However, they are hopeful about the research and believe that it has created the foundation needed to continue with research in the future. Ideally, experts will be able to use this method to provide earlier diagnosis for patients, which can result in better treatment.