A blood test could help identify epilepsy, according to new research from scientists at Lund University in Sweden.
Matilda Ahl and colleagues published their research in Heliyon in March, in which they found that there are higher rates of a protein called IL-6 in the blood in people with epilepsy.
The researchers investigated 56 people with epilepsy, split into four groups: those with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), frontal lobe epilepsy (FLE), psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES), and combined TLE and PNES.
The scientists confirmed patients’ seizures using video EEG and knew if they were taking blood samples before or after seizures.
The study found that levels of IL-6 in the blood were higher in people with FLE and TLE, including in the group of people who had both TLE and PNES, compared to people without epilepsy or PNES. After a seizure, the levels of the protein increased even more in people with TLE, but not in people with FLE.
The results also showed that the IL-6 levels were not increased in people with PNES.
Marie Taylor, part of the research team, said that investigating whether someone has epilepsy or PNES takes a lot of resource. She said: “It may require the patient to be admitted to hospital for several days with constant video and EEG surveillance, with medical staff on hand around the clock. It is hard on the patient that it takes time to reach a diagnosis.”
The researchers said the next step is to repeat the research in a broader group of people, including both adults and children.