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Tapeworm – Caused Epilepsy Articles Summary

Tapeworm – Caused Epilepsy Articles Summary

Taenia solium. (Credit: CDC/Dr. Mae Melvin)

We have been following this story and want to post some information about Tapeworm-caused Epilepsy. Science Daily has covered this story pretty well since the study in 2008 so we have included a timeline of articles from that site

Seizures Following Parasitic Infection Associated With Brain Swelling

ScienceDaily (Nov. 3, 2008)A new study by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) scientist Theodore E. Nash, M.D., and colleagues provides strong evidence associating seizures with areas of brain tissue swelling in people infected by a parasitic tapeworm. The swellings, called perilesional edemas, form around dead, calcified cysts that result when larvae of Taenia solium tapeworms lodge in the brain.

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Tapeworm Brain Infection ‘Serious Health Concern’

ScienceDaily (Apr. 14, 2010)Tapeworm infections of the brain, which can cause epileptic seizures, appear to be increasing in Mexico and bordering southwestern states, Loyola University Health System researchers report.

In Mexico, up to 10 percent of the population may have the infection, neurocysticercosis. While many people never develop symptoms, neurocysticercosis nevertheless “remains a serious health concern, especially among the poor,” Loyola researchers wrote in the journal Neurological Research.

Their article is among several articles in the journal’s April issue that describe neurological infections in Latin America. Guest editor is Dr. Jaime Belmares, assistant professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

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Fight Against Tapeworm-Caused Epilepsy Intensified

ScienceDaily (Jan. 13, 2011) The Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp is intensifying its fight in Congo against the pork tapeworm, which in spite of its name is also a human parasite, causing epilepsy. ITM scientists have worked for years on the tapeworm infection. That work now receives an important boost, thanks to a grant of the Gates Foundation, one of the most important health charities in the world. The Gates Foundations invests 1.5 million dollars in an international project to improve control of the tapeworm.

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Substance P Causes Seizures in Patients Infected by Pork Tapeworm

ScienceDaily (Feb. 9, 2012) A neuropeptide called Substance P is the cause of seizures in patients with brains infected by the pork tapeworm (Taenia solium), said Baylor College of Medicine researchers in a report that appears online in the open access journal PLoS Pathogens.

“Neurocysticercosis or the tapeworm parasitic infection in the brain, is the major cause of acquired seizures,” said Dr. Prema Robinson, assistant professor of medicine — infectious diseases, and corresponding author of the report. “It is particularly important to understand the source of these seizures in order to develop ways to treat and prevent them.”

Substance P is a neuropeptide (a small protein-like molecule involved in neuron-to-neuron communication.) It is produced by neurons, endothelial cells (the cells that line blood vessels) and cells involved in host defense. Discovered in the 1930s, it has long been recognized as a pain transmitter. However, in recent years, it has also been found to play a role in many other functions.

Inflammation of the brain

Robinson realized that Substance P is involved in inflammation and wondered if it might be involved in seizure activity.

Robinson and her colleagues — including one from Tufts Medical Center in Boston — found Substance P in autopsies of the brains of patients who had the tapeworm infection. They did not find Substance P in uninfected brains.

“As long as the parasite is alive, nothing happens,” said Robinson. However, once the worm dies, the body responds with chemicals that recruit immune system cells to the site of infection, causing inflammation. Her studies showed that the cells that produce Substance P are found mainly in areas of inflammation near the dead worms.

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