To determine whether surgery in patients with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (mTLE) is associated with reduced brain-predicted age as a neural marker overall brain health, we compared brain-predicted and chronologic age difference (brain age gap estimation [BrainAGE]) in patients before and after surgery with healthy controls.
We acquired 3D T1-weighted MRI scans for 48 patients with mTLE before and after temporal lobe surgery to estimate brain age using a gaussian processes regression model. We examined BrainAGE before and after surgery controlling for brain volume change, comparing patients to 37 age- and sex-matched controls.
Preoperatively, patients showed an increased BrainAGE of more than 7 years compared to controls. However, surgery was associated with a mean BrainAGE reduction of 5 years irrespective of whether or not surgery resulted in complete seizure freedom. We observed a lateralization effect as patients with left mTLE had BrainAGE values that more closely resembled control group values following surgery.
Our findings suggest that while morphologic brain alterations linked to accelerated aging have been observed in mTLE, surgery may be associated with changes that reverse such alterations in some patients. This work highlights the advantages of resective surgery on overall brain health in patients with refractory focal epilepsy.