Investigators at Virginia Tech have found a link between concussions and epilepsy development via mice models. More specifically, the team found atypical responses from brain cells known as astrocytes, which follow TBIs, may be the cause of epilepsy development. astrocytes can act as ‘double-agents’ after brain injury. On one hand, they form glial scars that help to seal off injured areas of the brain. On the other hand, these scars may become a seizure focus. In our model, we found a new and atypical response of astrocytes after mild, non-penetrating traumatic brain injury, which we linked with further development of spontaneous seizures in those animals with post-traumatic epilepsy. These astrocytes, did not form scars and did not cause an increased production of glial acidic fibrillary protein (GFAP), which is a commonly used marker of reactive astrocytes.
Currently, it is difficult to link mild TBI and epilepsy using epidemiological data due to different definitions in use for mild TBI, the long latency period between TBI and onset of epilepsy, and the fact that people incurring a mild TBI/concussion do not always seek medical help, which calls into question the accuracy of medical records in regards to previous injuries.