Serum serotonin levels in patients with epileptic seizures

Arun Murugesan, M. R.Sandhya Rani, Johnson Hampson, Bilal Zonjy, Nuria Lacuey, Carl L. Faingold, Daniel Friedman, Orrin Devinsky, Rup K. Sainju, Stephan Schuele, Beate Diehl, Maromi Nei, Ronald M. Harper, Lisa M. Bateman, George Richerson, Samden D. Lhatoo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Profound cardiovascular and/or respiratory dysfunction is part of the terminal cascade in sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP). Central control of ventilation is mediated by brainstem rhythm generators, which are influenced by a variety of inputs, many of which use the modulatory neurotransmitter serotonin to mediate important inputs for breathing. The aim of this study was to investigate epileptic seizure–induced changes in serum serotonin levels and whether there are potential implications for SUDEP. Forty-one epileptic patients were pooled into 2 groups based on seizure type as (1) generalized tonic–clonic seizures (GTCS) of genetic generalized epilepsy and focal to bilateral tonic–clonic seizures (FBTCS; n = 19) and (2) focal seizures (n = 26) based on clinical signs using surface video-electroencephalography. Postictal serotonin levels were statistically significantly higher after GTCS and FBTCS compared to interictal levels (P =.002) but not focal seizures (P =.941). The change in serotonin (postictal-interictal) was inversely associated with a shorter duration of tonic phase of generalized seizures. The interictal serotonin level was inversely associated with a shorter period of postictal generalized electroencephalographic suppression. These data suggest that peripheral serum serotonin levels may play a role in seizure features and earlier postseizure recovery; these findings merit further study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e91-e97
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2018


  • focal
  • generalized
  • postictal EEG suppression
  • sudden unexpected death in epilepsy
  • tonic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology


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