Neuroendocrine aspects of catamenial epilepsy. Academic Article uri icon


  • This review describes the neuroendocrinological aspects of catamenial epilepsy, a menstrual cycle-related seizure disorder in women with epilepsy. Catamenial epilepsy is a multifaceted neuroendocrine condition in which seizures are clustered around specific points in the menstrual cycle, most often around perimenstrual or periovulatory period. Three types of catamenial seizures (perimenstrual, periovulatory and inadequate luteal) have been identified. The molecular pathophysiology of catamenial epilepsy remains unclear. Cyclical changes in the circulating levels of estrogens and progesterone (P) play a central role in the development of catamenial epilepsy. Endogenous neurosteroids such as allopregnanolone (AP) and allotetrahydrodeoxycorticosterone (THDOC) that modulate seizure susceptibility could play a critical role in catamenial epilepsy. In addition, plasticity in GABA-A receptor subunits could play a role in the enhanced seizure susceptibility in catamenial epilepsy. P-derived neurosteroids such as AP and THDOC potentiate synaptic GABA-A receptor function and also activate extrasynaptic GABA-A receptors in the hippocampus and thus may represent endogenous regulators of catamenial seizure susceptibility. Experimental studies have shown that neurosteroids confer greater seizure protection in animal models of catamenial epilepsy, especially without evident tolerance to their actions during chronic therapy. In the recently completed NIH-sponsored, placebo controlled phase 3 clinical trial, P therapy proved to be beneficial only in women with perimenstrual catamenial epilepsy but not in non-catamenial subjects. Neurosteroid analogs with favorable profile may be useful in the treatment of catamenial epilepsy.

published proceedings

  • Horm Behav

author list (cited authors)

  • Reddy, D. S.

citation count

  • 52

complete list of authors

  • Reddy, Doodipala Samba

publication date

  • February 2013