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JCI Insight. 2019 Mar 26;5. pii: 126337. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.126337.

Pro-inflammatory, IL-17 pathways dominate the architecture of the immunome in pediatric refractory epilepsy.

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Translational Immunology Institute, Singhealth/Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre, Singapore.
Paediatrics Academic Clinical Programme, KK Women's and Children's Hospital, Singapore, Singapore.
Duke-NUS Medical School and Rheumatology and Immunology Service, KK Women's and Children's Hospital, Singapore, Singapore.


Drug refractory epilepsy (RE) is a chronic neurological disease with varied etiology that represents a group of patients whose seizures do not respond to anti-epileptic drugs. The immune system may have a role in seizure and epilepsy development, but the specific mechanisms of inflammation that lead to epileptogenesis and contribute to RE are unknown. Here, we used mass cytometry to comprehensively study the immune system of pediatric patients with RE and compared their immune profile and function with patients with age-matched autoimmune encephalitis (AIE) and healthy controls. Patients with RE and AIE displayed similar immune profiles overall, with changes in CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell subsets and an unbalance toward pro-inflammatory IL-17 production. In addition, patients with RE uniquely showed an altered balance in natural killer cell subsets. A systems level intercellular network analysis identified rewiring of the immune system leading to loss of inhibitory/regulatory intercellular connections and emergence of pro-inflammatory pathogenic functions in neuro-inflammatory immune-cell networks in patients with AIE and RE. These data underscore the contribution of systemic inflammation to the pathogenesis of seizures and epileptogenesis and have direct translational implications in advancing diagnostics and therapeutics design.


Cellular immune response; Epilepsy; Immunology; Neuroscience; T cells

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