The most common spinocerebellar ataxias (SCA)--SCA1, SCA2, SCA3, and SCA6--are caused by (CAG)n repeat expansion. While the number of repeats of the coding (CAG)n expansions is correlated with the age at onset, there are no appropriate models that include both affected and preclinical carriers allowing for the prediction of age at onset.
Autosomal recessive ataxias affect about 1 person in 20,000. Friedreich ataxia accounts for one-third of the cases in Caucasians; the others are due to a growing list of very rare molecular defects, including mild forms of metabolic diseases. In nearly 50%, the genetic cause remains undetermined.
Delirium is a leading cause of hospitalization and morbidity in elderly persons. Nonconvulsive status epilepticus (NCSE) and delirium share many risk factors. We tested the hypothesis that NCSE plays an important role in delirium by performing continuous EEG (cEEG) monitoring in elderly patients with delirium of any cause.
The Enhancing NeuroImaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis (ENIGMA) Consortium is a collaborative network of researchers working together on a range of large-scale studies that integrate data from 70 institutions worldwide. Organized into Working Groups that tackle questions in neuroscience, genetics, and medicine, ENIGMA studies have analyzed neuroimaging data from over 12,826 subjects. In addition, data from 12,171 individuals were provided by the CHARGE consortium for replication of findings, in a total of 24,997 subjects. By meta-analyzing results from many sites, ENIGMA has detected factors that affect the brain that no individual site could detect on its own, and that require larger numbers of subjects than any individual neuroimaging study has currently collected. ENIGMA's first project was a genome-wide association study identifying common variants in the genome associated with hippocampal volume or intracranial volume. Continuing work is exploring genetic associations with subcortical volumes (ENIGMA2) and white matter microstructure (ENIGMA-DTI). Working groups also focus on understanding how schizophrenia, bipolar illness, major depression and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affect the brain. We review the current progress of the ENIGMA Consortium, along with challenges and unexpected discoveries made on the way.
Epilepsy comprises several syndromes, amongst the most common being mesial temporal lobe epilepsy with hippocampal sclerosis. Seizures in mesial temporal lobe epilepsy with hippocampal sclerosis are typically drug-resistant, and mesial temporal lobe epilepsy with hippocampal sclerosis is frequently associated with important co-morbidities, mandating the search for better understanding and treatment. The cause of mesial temporal lobe epilepsy with hippocampal sclerosis is unknown, but there is an association with childhood febrile seizures. Several rarer epilepsies featuring febrile seizures are caused by mutations in SCN1A, which encodes a brain-expressed sodium channel subunit targeted by many anti-epileptic drugs. We undertook a genome-wide association study in 1018 people with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy with hippocampal sclerosis and 7552 control subjects, with validation in an independent sample set comprising 959 people with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy with hippocampal sclerosis and 3591 control subjects. To dissect out variants related to a history of febrile seizures, we tested cases with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy with hippocampal sclerosis with (overall n = 757) and without (overall n = 803) a history of febrile seizures. Meta-analysis revealed a genome-wide significant association for mesial temporal lobe epilepsy with hippocampal sclerosis with febrile seizures at the sodium channel gene cluster on chromosome 2q24.3 [rs7587026, within an intron of the SCN1A gene, P = 3.36 × 10(-9), odds ratio (A) = 1.42, 95% confidence interval: 1.26-1.59]. In a cohort of 172 individuals with febrile seizures, who did not develop epilepsy during prospective follow-up to age 13 years, and 6456 controls, no association was found for rs7587026 and febrile seizures. These findings suggest SCN1A involvement in a common epilepsy syndrome, give new direction to biological understanding of mesial temporal lobe epilepsy with hippocampal sclerosis with febrile seizures, and open avenues for investigation of prognostic factors and possible prevention of epilepsy in some children with febrile seizures.
We identified a small family with autosomal recessive, infantile onset epilepsy and intellectual disability. Exome sequencing identified a homozygous missense variant in the gene TNK2, encoding a brain-expressed tyrosine kinase. Sequencing of the coding region of TNK2 in 110 patients with a similar phenotype failed to detect further homozygote or compound heterozygote mutations. Pathogenicity of the variant is supported by the results of our functional studies, which demonstrated that the variant abolishes NEDD4 binding to TNK2, preventing its degradation after epidermal growth factor stimulation. Definitive proof of pathogenicity will require confirmation in unrelated patients.
Pharmacoresistant epilepsy can be treated by either resection of the epileptic focus or functional isolation of the epileptic focus through complete disconnection of the pathways of propagation of the epileptic activity.
Pharmacogenetics (PGX) is the study of how genetic variants influence individual responses to drugs. Although numerous candidate gene studies in epilepsy PGX have been published, to date only two validated associations exist: the association of the *2 and *3 alleles of CYP2C9 with phenytoin metabolism and the association of HLA-B*1502 with serious hypersensitivity reactions to carbamazepine. The advent of novel technologies such as genomewide association studies and next generation sequencing will likely lead to the identification of additional genetic biomarkers. The potential benefits of epilepsy PGX are multiple: epilepsy treatment in individual patients would become more rationalized, clinical trials could be stratified according to patients genetic profiles and novel therapeutic pathways may be uncovered. Ultimately, it is hoped that PGX will improve the quality of life for people suffering from epilepsy worldwide.
Topiramate is an antiepileptic drug that has marked treatment-limiting side effects on specific aspects of cognitive performance in both patients and healthy volunteers. Because these severe side effects occur only in certain individuals, identifying genetic or environmental variables that influence cognitive response would be of great utility in determining whether to administer this drug to a patient. We gave an acute 100 mg oral dose of topiramate to 158 healthy volunteers and measured how the drug changed their performance on a diverse battery of cognitive tests. We found a wide range of responses to topiramate, and we demonstrated that not all tests in the battery were equally affected. There was no correlation between the effect of topiramate and either education level or baseline cognitive performance. Of interest, there was an up to 55-fold variation in the topiramate plasma levels of the participants. Our genome-wide association study (GWAS) of cognitive response did not reveal any genome-wide significant associations; the study was powered to find variants explaining at least 25% of the variation in cognitive response. Combining the results of this GWAS with a retrospective study of cognitive complaints in 290 epilepsy patients who received topiramate as part of their treatment also did not result in a significant association. Our results support the need for additional genetic studies of topiramate that use larger sample sizes.
Several recent reports of genomic microdeletions in epilepsy will generate further research; discovery of more microdeletions and other important classes of variants may follow. Detection of such genetic abnormalities in patients being evaluated for surgical treatment might raise concern that a genetic defect, possibly widely expressed in the brain, will affect surgical outcome.
Carbamazepine causes various forms of hypersensitivity reactions, ranging from maculopapular exanthema to severe blistering reactions. The HLA-B*1502 allele has been shown to be strongly correlated with carbamazepine-induced Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis (SJS-TEN) in the Han Chinese and other Asian populations but not in European populations.
This is a description of the prevalence and profile of depressive symptoms in dominant spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA). Depressive symptoms were assessed in a convenience sample of 526 genetically confirmed and clinically affected patients (117 SCA1, 163 SCA2, 139 SCA3, and 107 SCA6) using the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ). In addition, depressive status according to the examiner and the use of antidepressants was recorded. Depression self-assessment was compared with an interview-based psychiatric assessment in a subset of 26 patients. Depression prevalence estimates were 17.1% according to the PHQ algorithm and 15.4% when assessed clinically. The sensitivity of clinical impression compared with PHQ classification was low (0.35), whereas diagnostic accuracy of PHQ compared with psychiatric interview in the subset was high. Antidepressants were used by 17.7% of patients and in >10% of patients without current clinically relevant depressive symptoms. Depression profile in SCA did not differ from a sample of patients with major depressive disorder except for the movement-related item. Neither depression prevalence nor use of antidepressants differed between genetic subtypes, with only sleep disturbance more common in SCA3. In a multivariate analysis, ataxia severity and female sex independently predicted depressive status in SCA. The PHQ algorithmic classification is appropriate for use in SCA but should stimulate further psychiatric evaluation if depression is indicated. Despite a higher risk for depression with more severe disease, the relation of depressive symptoms to SCA neurodegeneration remains to be shown.
Partial epilepsies have a substantial heritability. However, the actual genetic causes are largely unknown. In contrast to many other common diseases for which genetic association-studies have successfully revealed common variants associated with disease risk, the role of common variation in partial epilepsies has not yet been explored in a well-powered study. We undertook a genome-wide association-study to identify common variants which influence risk for epilepsy shared amongst partial epilepsy syndromes, in 3445 patients and 6935 controls of European ancestry. We did not identify any genome-wide significant association. A few single nucleotide polymorphisms may warrant further investigation. We exclude common genetic variants with effect sizes above a modest 1.3 odds ratio for a single variant as contributors to genetic susceptibility shared across the partial epilepsies. We show that, at best, common genetic variation can only have a modest role in predisposition to the partial epilepsies when considered across syndromes in Europeans. The genetic architecture of the partial epilepsies is likely to be very complex, reflecting genotypic and phenotypic heterogeneity. Larger meta-analyses are required to identify variants of smaller effect sizes (odds ratio<1.3) or syndrome-specific variants. Further, our results suggest research efforts should also be directed towards identifying the multiple rare variants likely to account for at least part of the heritability of the partial epilepsies. Data emerging from genome-wide association-studies will be valuable during the next serious challenge of interpreting all the genetic variation emerging from whole-genome sequencing studies.
Patient-based measures of subjective health status are increasingly used as outcome measures in interventional trials. We aimed to determine the variability and predictors of subjective health ratings in a possible target group for future interventions: the spinocerebellar ataxias (SCAs). A consecutive sample of 526 patients with otherwise unexplained progressive ataxia and genetic diagnoses of SCA1 (117), SCA2 (163), SCA3 (139), and SCA6 (107) were enrolled at 18 European referral centers. Subjective health status was assessed with a generic measure of health related quality of life, the EQ-5D (Euroqol) questionnaire. In addition, we performed a neurological examination and a screening questionnaire for affective disorders (patient health questionnaire). Patient-reported health status was compromised in patients of all genotypes (EQ-5D visual analogue scale (EQ-VAS) mean 61.45 +/- 20.8). Specifically, problems were reported in the dimensions of mobility (86.9% of patients), usual activities (68%), pain/discomfort (49.4%), depression/anxiety (46.4%), and self care (38.2%). Multivariate analysis revealed three independent predictors of subjective health status: ataxia severity, extent of noncerebellar involvement, and the presence of depressive syndrome. This model explained 30.5% of EQ-VAS variance in the whole sample and might be extrapolated to other SCA genotypes.
Deletions at 16p13.11 are associated with schizophrenia, mental retardation, and most recently idiopathic generalized epilepsy. To evaluate the role of 16p13.11 deletions, as well as other structural variation, in epilepsy disorders, we used genome-wide screens to identify copy number variation in 3812 patients with a diverse spectrum of epilepsy syndromes and in 1299 neurologically-normal controls. Large deletions (> 100 kb) at 16p13.11 were observed in 23 patients, whereas no control had a deletion greater than 16 kb. Patients, even those with identically sized 16p13.11 deletions, presented with highly variable epilepsy phenotypes. For a subset of patients with a 16p13.11 deletion, we show a consistent reduction of expression for included genes, suggesting that haploinsufficiency might contribute to pathogenicity. We also investigated another possible mechanism of pathogenicity by using hybridization-based capture and next-generation sequencing of the homologous chromosome for ten 16p13.11-deletion patients to look for unmasked recessive mutations. Follow-up genotyping of suggestive polymorphisms failed to identify any convincing recessive-acting mutations in the homologous interval corresponding to the deletion. The observation that two of the 16p13.11 deletions were larger than 2 Mb in size led us to screen for other large deletions. We found 12 additional genomic regions harboring deletions > 2 Mb in epilepsy patients, and none in controls. Additional evaluation is needed to characterize the role of these exceedingly large, non-locus-specific deletions in epilepsy. Collectively, these data implicate 16p13.11 and possibly other large deletions as risk factors for a wide range of epilepsy disorders, and they appear to point toward haploinsufficiency as a contributor to the pathogenicity of deletions.
Friedreich ataxia (FRDA) is an autosomal recessive neurodegenerative disease caused in almost all cases by homozygosity for a GAA trinucleotide repeat expansion in the frataxin gene. Frataxin is a mitochondrial protein involved in iron homeostasis. FRDA patients have a high prevalence of diabetes, the pathogenesis of which is not known. We aimed to evaluate the relative contribution of insulin resistance and ?-cell failure and the pathogenic mechanisms involved in FRDA diabetes.
Many pathogenic structural variants of the human genome are known to cause facial dysmorphism. During the past decade, pathogenic structural variants have also been found to be an important class of genetic risk factor for epilepsy. In other fields, face shape has been assessed objectively using 3D stereophotogrammetry and dense surface models. We hypothesized that computer-based analysis of 3D face images would detect subtle facial abnormality in people with epilepsy who carry pathogenic structural variants as determined by chromosome microarray. In 118 children and adults attending three European epilepsy clinics, we used an objective measure called Face Shape Difference to show that those with pathogenic structural variants have a significantly more atypical face shape than those without such variants. This is true when analysing the whole face, or the periorbital region or the perinasal region alone. We then tested the predictive accuracy of our measure in a second group of 63 patients. Using a minimum threshold to detect face shape abnormalities with pathogenic structural variants, we found high sensitivity (4/5, 80% for whole face; 3/5, 60% for periorbital and perinasal regions) and specificity (45/58, 78% for whole face and perinasal regions; 40/58, 69% for periorbital region). We show that the results do not seem to be affected by facial injury, facial expression, intellectual disability, drug history or demographic differences. Finally, we use bioinformatics tools to explore relationships between facial shape and gene expression within the developing forebrain. Stereophotogrammetry and dense surface models are powerful, objective, non-contact methods of detecting relevant face shape abnormalities. We demonstrate that they are useful in identifying atypical face shape in adults or children with structural variants, and they may give insights into the molecular genetics of facial development.
Idiopathic generalized epilepsy (IGE) is a complex disease with high heritability, but little is known about its genetic architecture. Rare copy-number variants have been found to explain nearly 3% of individuals with IGE; however, it remains unclear whether variants with moderate effect size and frequencies below what are reliably detected with genome-wide association studies contribute significantly to disease risk. In this study, we compare the exome sequences of 118 individuals with IGE and 242 controls of European ancestry by using next-generation sequencing. The exome-sequenced epilepsy cases include study subjects with two forms of IGE, including juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (n = 93) and absence epilepsy (n = 25). However, our discovery strategy did not assume common genetic control between the subtypes of IGE considered. In the sequence data, as expected, no variants were significantly associated with the IGE phenotype or more specific IGE diagnoses. We then selected 3,897 candidate epilepsy-susceptibility variants from the sequence data and genotyped them in a larger set of 878 individuals with IGE and 1,830 controls. Again, no variant achieved statistical significance. However, 1,935 variants were observed exclusively in cases either as heterozygous or homozygous genotypes. It is likely that this set of variants includes real risk factors. The lack of significant association evidence of single variants with disease in this two-stage approach emphasizes the high genetic heterogeneity of epilepsy disorders, suggests that the impact of any individual single-nucleotide variant in this disease is small, and indicates that gene-based approaches might be more successful for future sequencing studies of epilepsy predisposition.
Identifying genetic variants influencing human brain structures may reveal new biological mechanisms underlying cognition and neuropsychiatric illness. The volume of the hippocampus is a biomarker of incipient Alzheimers disease and is reduced in schizophrenia, major depression and mesial temporal lobe epilepsy. Whereas many brain imaging phenotypes are highly heritable, identifying and replicating genetic influences has been difficult, as small effects and the high costs of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have led to underpowered studies. Here we report genome-wide association meta-analyses and replication for mean bilateral hippocampal, total brain and intracranial volumes from a large multinational consortium. The intergenic variant rs7294919 was associated with hippocampal volume (12q24.22; N = 21,151; P = 6.70 × 10(-16)) and the expression levels of the positional candidate gene TESC in brain tissue. Additionally, rs10784502, located within HMGA2, was associated with intracranial volume (12q14.3; N = 15,782; P = 1.12 × 10(-12)). We also identified a suggestive association with total brain volume at rs10494373 within DDR2 (1q23.3; N = 6,500; P = 5.81 × 10(-7)).
Acute confusional state (ACS) is a frequent cause of emergency consultation in the elderly. Many causes of ACS are also risk factors for seizures. Both non-convulsive seizures and status epilepticus can cause acute confusion. The yield of routine EEG may not be optimal in case of prolonged post-ictal confusion. We thus, sought to evaluate the yield of CEEG in identifying seizures in elderly patients with ACS of unknown origin.
An association between carbamazepine-induced hypersensitivity and HLA-A*3101 has been reported in populations of both European and Asian descent. We aimed to investigate HLA-A*3101 and other common variants across the genome as markers for cutaneous adverse drug reactions (cADRs) attributed to lamotrigine and phenytoin.
The treatment of refractory status epilepticus (RSE) remains largely empirical. Lacosamide (LCM) is a new anticonvulsant available in intravenous (IV) form, but its optimal dosing regimen for the treatment of RSE is unknown. We compared safety and efficacy of two loading doses: 200 and 400 mg.
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