Broad Anti-inflammatory Approaches Feasible for Epilepsy: Nicholas Varvel, PhD


The assistant professor in the department of pharmacology and chemical biology at Emory University School of Medicine spoke about immune cells in epilepsy based on his special lecture at the 2022 AES Annual Meeting. [WATCH TIME: 4 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 4 minutes 

“We have been interested in the roles that specific subtypes of immune cells—namely, the innate immune cells—play in the inflammatory [response] after both status epilepticus, as well as in epilepsy, and we have shown that blocking the migration of monocytes into the brain has various beneficial consequences.”

An introduction to immune cells in epilepsy was a talk recently given by Nicholas Varvel, PhD, at the 2022 American Epilepsy Society Annual Meeting, held December 2 to 6, in Nashville, Tennessee. Varvel discussed some of the hopes for the future with studies as that further research down the line would help with generalizing the findings more for a broader population such as those that may have different responses to the cells in their system.

Varvel, assistant professor, department of pharmacology and chemical biology, Emory University School of Medicine, sat down with NeurologyLive® during the meeting and provided more of an overview of the use of immune cells in epilepsy. He also spoke about some actions that should be taken for challenges that arise in certain patient populations when the inflammatory system is more activated.

In his talk, Varvel offered his perspective on innate immune cell activation based on his work that has demonstrated that a blood-borne immune cell invades the brain after seizure activity and contributes to the florid neuroinflammatory response. Limiting brain entry of the blood monocytes was beneficial, reducing neuronal damage, preventing erosion of the blood-brain barrier, and accelerating weight regain. These findings indicate that treatment strategies aimed at inhibiting peripheral monocyte recruitment to the brain after seizures could be beneficial.

Click here for more coverage of AES 2022.

1. Varvel NH. Introduction to Immune Cells in Epilepsy. Presented at: AES Annual Meeting; December 2-6, 2022; Nashville, TN, and virtual. Special lecture.
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