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Neurochemical and morphological changes associated with human epilepsy

To date a multitude of studies into the morphology and neurochemistry of human epilepsy have been undertaken with variable, and often inconsistent, results. This review summarises these studies on a range of neurotransmitters, neuromodulators, neuropeptides and their receptors. In addition to this, novel changes in cell viability and sprouting have been identified and are discussed. Whether the alterations observed are a result of the seizures or are a contributory factor is unclear. However, it may be that following an initial insult (such as febrile convulsions, status epilepticus or head injury) secondary processes occur both of an anticonvulsant nature in an attempt to compensate for seizure activity, and in a kindling type of fashion, resulting in an increased susceptibility to seizures, leading to future seizures. Many of the alterations documented in this study probably represent one or both of these processes. Clearly no single chemical abnormality or morphological alteration is going to explain the clinically diverse disorder of epilepsy. However, by drawing together the neurochemistry and morphology of epilepsy, we may begin to understand the mechanisms involved in seizure disorders.

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