Persistent BBB disruption may underlie alpha interferon-induced seizures

Lev Pavlovsky, Ernst Seiffert, Uwe Heinemann, Akiva Korn, Haim Golan, Alon Friedman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Generalized seizures during Interferon-alpha (IFN-α) therapy have been repeatedly described in about 1 %-4 % of patients. However, the mechanisms underlying IFN-α induced seizures are not known. We describe a patient who developed partial and secondary generalized seizures during IFN-α therapy while displaying a focal disruption of her blood-brain barrier (BBB) corresponding with pathological electroencephalography (EEG). To test our hypothesis that IFN-α induces seizure activity, we exposed rat somatosensory cortices to clinically relevant concentrations of IFN-α in the acute in-vitro slice preparation or in-vivo. While acute exposure did not induce epileptic activity, recordings from slices exposed to IFN-α in-vivo one week prior to recordings revealed pronounced epileptiform activity in > 80 % of the slices. We propose that cortical exposure to IFN-α leads to the generation of an epileptic cortex, which explains the weeks of latency in patients from initial treatment to seizures, and stressing the importance of identifying possible BBB disruption among high-risk patients administered peripherally acting drugs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-46
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Blood-brain barrier
  • Interferon-alpha
  • Seizure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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