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The mechanisms that transform a normal brain to an epileptic one are not fully understood. Interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β) contributes to neuronal degeneration observed in several neurological disorders and recently has been implicated in neuronal injury that may accompany the process of epileptogenesis. This review presents the hypothesis that IL-1β may contribute to the development of epilepsy via several mechanisms, including classical effects on neuronal survival and transcription pathways; novel rapid effects on receptor-gated ion channels; and long-lasting effects on expression of selective gene families. Thus, evidence that IL-1β actions in epilepsy can be independent from the neurotoxic effects of this cytokine is presented.