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In this article, we review the incidence and significance of seizures in well-established autoimmune disorders, including multiple sclerosis (MS), diabetes mellitus, celiac disease, thyroid disease, and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The five following presentations discuss the incidence and possible pathogenesis of epilepsies that are found in these well-known autoimmune conditions. There is a large body of evidence describing the clinical presentation of seizures with MS and SLE, and showing that refractory epilepsy can complicate these already challenging disorders. However, the mechanisms involved are complex and generally not well understood. Neurologic syndromes, including seizure disorders, can also be a feature of celiac disease (CD) or subclinical CD, sometimes associated with cerebral calcification. The association between type-1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) and epilepsy is unclear and requires more definitive epidemiologic analysis, despite the fact that antibodies to glutamic acid decarboxylase may provide a link between the two conditions. The association between thyroid disorders and encephalopathies, often termed Hashimoto's encephalopathy, is well known but the pathogenic significance of antithyroid antibodies in this condition is still debated. In general, the relationships between autoimmune mechanisms and seizures in these conditions are unclear; the seizures are likely to be caused by a variety of mechanisms, including ischemia, neuronal damage, and specific and nonspecific immunity.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date



52 Suppl 3


12 - 17


Animals, Autoimmune Diseases, Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1, Epilepsy, Humans, Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic, Multiple Sclerosis, Nervous System Diseases, Seizures