Issues related to symptomatic and disease-modifying treatments affecting cognitive and neuropsychiatric comorbidities of epilepsy

Authors


Address correspondence to Amy Brooks-Kayal, Chief and Ponzio Family Chair in Pediatric Neurology, 13123 East 16th Avenue, Box B155, Aurora, CO 80045, U.S.A. E-mail: Amy.brooks-kayal@childrenscolorado.org

Summary

Many symptoms of neurologic or psychiatric illness—such as cognitive impairment, depression, anxiety, attention deficits, and migraine—occur more frequently in people with epilepsy than in the general population. These diverse comorbidities present an underappreciated problem for people with epilepsy and their caregivers because they decrease quality of life, complicate treatment, and increase mortality. In fact, it has been suggested that comorbidities can have a greater effect on quality of life in people with epilepsy than the seizures themselves. There is increasing recognition of the frequency and impact of cognitive and behavioral comorbidities of epilepsy, highlighted in the 2012 Institute of Medicine report on epilepsy. Comorbidities have also been acknowledged, as a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Benchmark area for research in epilepsy. However, relatively little progress has been made in developing new therapies directed specifically at comorbidities. On the other hand, there have been many advances in understanding underlying mechanisms. These advances have made it possible to identify novel targets for therapy and prevention. As part of the International League Against Epilepsy/American Epilepsy Society workshop on preclinical therapy development for epilepsy, our working group considered the current state of understanding related to terminology, models, and strategies for therapy development for the comorbidities of epilepsy. Herein we summarize our findings and suggest ways to accelerate development of new therapies. We also consider important issues to improve research including those related to methodology, nonpharmacologic therapies, biomarkers, and infrastructure.

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