Deficiency of Selenium and Zinc as a Potential Factor in Patients with Idiopathic Drug-resistant Epilepsy

Epilepsy News From:

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

In articles ahead of press in the journal Epilepsy Research from December 2012, Drs. Seven and colleagues from the Department of Medical Genetics, Molecular Biology and Pediatric Neurology at the Cerrahpasa in Istanbul, Turkey, present an interesting analysis assessing the levels of serum trace elements such as selenium, zinc and copper in individuals with idiopathic drug-resistant epilepsy. The authors postulate that accumulation of free radicals can lead to seizures and increases risk of their recurrence. Glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase are two major enzymes involved in antioxidative defense mechanisms. Selenium, zinc and copper are important minerals that participate in the structure of these enzymes and therefore the study’s purpose was to evaluate the potential association between trace elements and idiopathic drug-resistant epilepsy by comparing levels of selenium, zinc and copper between individuals with idiopathic drug-resistant epilepsy and healthy children.

Their approach looked at 70 individuals with drug-resistant epilepsy and compared to 60 healthy children who were matched for age, ethnicity and socioeconomic status. Levels of serum zinc and copper were measured with an atomic absorption spectrophotometer, a special device used to assess the levels of these trace elements.

The authors found that patients with drug-resistant epilepsy had significantly decreased levels of serum zinc and selenium compared to healthy individuals but not for copper. The authors concluded that perhaps decreased levels of zinc or selenium in patients the drug-resistant epilepsy could provide new insights in delineating what is contributing or causing the epilepsy and guide potential future treatment.

The study is interesting because it underscores the concern about nutrition, and its relationship to epilepsy. Although the study is small, the question remains as to how mineral deficiencies may lead to drug-resistant epilepsy and what does that mean for treatment?

Authored by: Joseph I. Sirven MD on 1/2013

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