Epilepsy is a debilitating disorder that affects about 70 million people in the world currently. Most patients with epilepsy (PWE) often reported at least one type of comorbid disorder. These may include neuropsychiatric disorders, cognitive deficit, migraine, cardiovascular dysfunction, systemic autoimmune disorders and others. Current treatment strategies against epilepsy-associated comorbidities have been based on targeting each disorder separately with either anti-seizure medications (ASMs), anti-inflammatories or anti-depressant drugs, which have often given inconsistent and ineffective results.
Gut dysbiosis may be a common pathological pathway between epilepsy and its comorbid disorders, and thus may serve as a possible intervention target. Therefore, this narrative review aimed to elucidate the potential pathological and therapeutic role of the gut microbiota in adult epilepsy-associated comorbidities. This review noticed a scarcity in the current literature on studies investigating the direct role of the gut microbiota in relation to epilepsy-associated comorbidities.
Nevertheless, gut dysbiosis have been implicated in both epilepsy and its associated comorbidities, with similarities seen in the imbalance of certain gut microbiota phyla (Firmicutes), but differences seen in the mechanism of action. Current gut-related interventions such as probiotics have been consistently reported across studies to provide beneficial effects in correcting gut dysbiosis and improving various disorders, independent of epilepsy.
However, whether these beneficial effects may translate towards epilepsy-associated comorbidities have yet to be determined. Thus, future studies determining the therapeutic potential of gut microbiota interventions in PWE with epilepsy-associated comorbidities may effectively improve their quality of life.