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1.  Midbrain–hindbrain malformations in patients with malformations of cortical development and epilepsy: A series of 220 patients 
Epilepsy Research  2013;106(1-2):181-190.
•We assessed midbrain–hindbrain in a large series of cortical malformation patients.•Midbrain–hindbrain malformations are commonly linked to cortical malformations.•Midbrain–hindbrain malformations are associated with severe clinical phenotype.
Midbrain–hindbrain malformations (MHM) may coexist with malformations of cortical development (MCD). This study represents a first attempt to investigate the spectrum of MHM in a large series of patients with MCD and epilepsy. We aimed to explore specific associations between MCD and MHM and to compare two groups of patients: MCD with MHM (wMHM) and MCD without MHM (w/oMHM) with regard to clinical and imaging features.
Two hundred and twenty patients (116 women/104 men, median age 28 years, interquartile range 20–44 years at the time of assessment) with MCD and epilepsy were identified at the Departments of Neurology and Pediatrics, Innsbruck Medical University, Austria. All underwent high-resolution MRIs (1.5-T) between 01.01.2002 and 31.12.2011. Midbrain–hindbrain structures were visually assessed by three independent raters.
MHM were seen in 17% (38/220) of patients. The rate of patients wMHM and w/oMHM differed significantly (p = 0.004) in three categories of MCD (category I – to abnormal neuronal proliferation; category II – to abnormal neuronal migration; and category III – due to abnormal neuronal late migration/organization): MCD due to abnormal neuronal migration (31%) and organization (23%) were more commonly associated with MHM compared to those with MCD due to abnormal neuronal proliferation (9%). Extensive bilateral MCD were seen more often in patients wMHM compared to those w/oMHM (63% vs. 36%; p = 0.004). In wMHM group compared to w/oMHM group there were higher rates of callosal dysgenesis (26% vs. 4%; p < 0.001) and hippocampal abnormalities (52% vs. 27%; p < 0.001). Patients wMHM were younger (median 25 years vs. 30 years; p = 0.010) at the time of assessment and had seizure onset at an earlier age (median 5 years vs. 12 years; p = 0.043) compared to those w/oMHM. Patients wMHM had higher rates of learning disability (71% vs. 38%; p < 0.001), delayed developmental milestones (68% vs. 35%; p < 0.001) and neurological deficits (66% vs. 47%; p = 0.049) compared to those w/oMHM.
The groups (wMHM and w/oMHM) did not differ in their response to antiepileptic treatment, seizure outcome, seizure types, EEG abnormalities and rate of status epilepticus. Presence of MHM in patients with MCD and epilepsy is associated with severe morphological and clinical phenotypes.
PMCID: PMC3885798  PMID: 23810707
Epilepsy; Cortical dysplasia; MRI; Developmental disorders; Midbrain–hindbrain
2.  Glutamate Decarboxylase67 is Expressed in Hippocampal Mossy Fibers of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy Patients 
Hippocampus  2011;22(3):590-603.
Recently, expression of glutamate decarboxylase-67 (GAD67), a key enzyme of GABA synthesis, was detected in the otherwise glutamatergic mossy fibers of the rat hippocampus. Synthesis of the enzyme was markedly enhanced after experimentally induced status epilepticus. Here, we investigated the expression of GAD67 protein and mRNA in 44 hippocampal specimens from patients with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) using double immunofluorescence histochemistry, immunoblotting, and in situ hybridization. Both in specimens with (n = 37) and without (n = 7) hippocampal sclerosis, GAD67 was highly coexpressed with dynorphin in terminal areas of mossy fibers, including the dentate hilus and the stratum lucidum of sector CA3. In the cases with Ammon’s horn sclerosis, also the inner molecular layer of the dentate gyrus contained strong staining for GAD67 immunoreactivity, indicating labeling of mossy fiber terminals that specifically sprout into this area. Double immunofluorescence revealed the colocalization of GAD67 immunoreactivity with the mossy fiber marker dynorphin. The extent of colabeling correlated with the number of seizures experienced by the patients. Furthermore, GAD67 mRNA was found in granule cells of the dentate gyrus. Levels, both of GAD67 mRNA and of GAD67 immunoreactivity were similar in sclerotic and nonsclerotic specimens and appeared to be increased compared to post mortem controls. Provided that the strong expression of GAD67 results in synthesis of GABA in hippocampal mossy fibers this may represent a self-protecting mechanism in TLE. In addition GAD67 expression also may result in conversion of excessive intracellular glutamate to nontoxic GABA within mossy fiber terminals.
PMCID: PMC3196646  PMID: 21509853
GABA; GAD67; VGAT; inverse GABA transport; plasticity
3.  Dynamic Up-regulation of Prodynorphin Transcription in Temporal Lobe Epilepsy 
Hippocampus  2009;19(11):1051-1054.
Dynorphin neuropeptides are believed to act as endogenous anticonvulsants, though direct evidence for such a role in humans is sparse. We now report pronounced increases of prodynorphin mRNA expression in the dentate gyrus of patients with temporal lobe epilepsy in comparison to controls. We detected a conspicuously right skewed, bimodal distribution of mRNA levels among patients, suggestive of a dynamic up-regulation of prodynorphin expression in epilepsy. Highest transcript levels were seen postictally. Our data argue for an essential role of dynorphin in the termination of seizures.
PMCID: PMC3073604  PMID: 19437412
dynorphin; neuropeptides; temporal lobe epilepsy; seizures; seizure protection
4.  15q13.3 microdeletions increase risk of idiopathic generalized epilepsy 
Nature genetics  2009;41(2):160-162.
We identified 15q13.3 microdeletions encompassing the CHRNA7 gene in 12 of 1,223 individuals with idiopathic generalized epilepsy (IGE), which were not detected in 3,699 controls (joint P = 5.32 × 10−8). Most deletion carriers showed common IGE syndromes without other features previously associated with 15q13.3 microdeletions, such as intellectual disability, autism or schizophrenia. Our results indicate that 15q13.3 microdeletions constitute the most prevalent risk factor for common epilepsies identified to date.
PMCID: PMC3026630  PMID: 19136953
5.  Recurrent microdeletions at 15q11.2 and 16p13.11 predispose to idiopathic generalized epilepsies 
Brain  2009;133(1):23-32.
Idiopathic generalized epilepsies account for 30% of all epilepsies. Despite a predominant genetic aetiology, the genetic factors predisposing to idiopathic generalized epilepsies remain elusive. Studies of structural genomic variations have revealed a significant excess of recurrent microdeletions at 1q21.1, 15q11.2, 15q13.3, 16p11.2, 16p13.11 and 22q11.2 in various neuropsychiatric disorders including autism, intellectual disability and schizophrenia. Microdeletions at 15q13.3 have recently been shown to constitute a strong genetic risk factor for common idiopathic generalized epilepsy syndromes, implicating that other recurrent microdeletions may also be involved in epileptogenesis. This study aimed to investigate the impact of five microdeletions at the genomic hotspot regions 1q21.1, 15q11.2, 16p11.2, 16p13.11 and 22q11.2 on the genetic risk to common idiopathic generalized epilepsy syndromes. The candidate microdeletions were assessed by high-density single nucleotide polymorphism arrays in 1234 patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy from North-western Europe and 3022 controls from the German population. Microdeletions were validated by quantitative polymerase chain reaction and their breakpoints refined by array comparative genomic hybridization. In total, 22 patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy (1.8%) carried one of the five novel microdeletions compared with nine controls (0.3%) (odds ratio = 6.1; 95% confidence interval 2.8–13.2; χ2 = 26.7; 1 degree of freedom; P = 2.4 × 10−7). Microdeletions were observed at 1q21.1 [Idiopathic generalized epilepsy (IGE)/control: 1/1], 15q11.2 (IGE/control: 12/6), 16p11.2 IGE/control: 1/0, 16p13.11 (IGE/control: 6/2) and 22q11.2 (IGE/control: 2/0). Significant associations with IGEs were found for the microdeletions at 15q11.2 (odds ratio = 4.9; 95% confidence interval 1.8–13.2; P = 4.2 × 10−4) and 16p13.11 (odds ratio = 7.4; 95% confidence interval 1.3–74.7; P = 0.009). Including nine patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy in this cohort with known 15q13.3 microdeletions (IGE/control: 9/0), parental transmission could be examined in 14 families. While 10 microdeletions were inherited (seven maternal and three paternal transmissions), four microdeletions occurred de novo at 15q13.3 (n = 1), 16p13.11 (n = 2) and 22q11.2 (n = 1). Eight of the transmitting parents were clinically unaffected, suggesting that the microdeletion itself is not sufficient to cause the epilepsy phenotype. Although the microdeletions investigated are individually rare (<1%) in patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy, they collectively seem to account for a significant fraction of the genetic variance in common idiopathic generalized epilepsy syndromes. The present results indicate an involvement of microdeletions at 15q11.2 and 16p13.11 in epileptogenesis and strengthen the evidence that recurrent microdeletions at 15q11.2, 15q13.3 and 16p13.11 confer a pleiotropic susceptibility effect to a broad range of neuropsychiatric disorders.
PMCID: PMC2801323  PMID: 19843651
idiopathic generalized epilepsy; microdeletions; association; genetics
6.  Genome wide high density SNP-based linkage analysis of childhood absence epilepsy identifies a susceptibility locus on chromosome 3p23-p14 
Epilepsy Research  2009;87(2-3):247-255.
Childhood absence epilepsy (CAE) is an idiopathic generalised epilepsy (IGE) characterised by typical absence seizures manifested by transitory loss of awareness with 2.5–4 Hz spike-wave complexes on ictal EEG. A genetic component to the aetiology is well recognised but the mechanism of inheritance and the genes involved are yet to be fully established.
A genome wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)-based high density linkage scan was carried out using 41 nuclear pedigrees with at least two affected members. Multipoint parametric and non-parametric linkage analyses were performed using MERLIN 1.1.1 and a susceptibility locus was identified on chromosome 3p23-p14 (Zmean = 3.9, p < 0.0001; HLOD = 3.3, α = 0.7). The linked region harbours the functional candidate genes TRAK1 and CACNA2D2. Fine-mapping using a tagSNP approach demonstrated disease association with variants in TRAK1.
PMCID: PMC2791882  PMID: 19837565
Childhood absence epilepsy; Linkage; Association; Chromosome 3; TRAK1
7.  Linkage and association analysis of CACNG3 in childhood absence epilepsy 
Childhood absence epilepsy (CAE) is an idiopathic generalised epilepsy characterised by absence seizures manifested by transitory loss of awareness with 2.5-4Hz spike-wave complexes on ictal EEG. A genetic component to aetiology is established but the mechanism of inheritance and the genes involved are not fully defined. Available evidence suggests that genes encoding brain expressed voltage-gated calcium channels, including CACNG3 on chromosome 16p12-p13.1, may represent susceptibility loci for CAE. The aim of this work was to further evaluate CACNG3 as a susceptibility locus by linkage and association analysis. Assuming locus heterogeneity, a significant HLOD score (HLOD=3.54, α=0.62) was obtained for markers encompassing CACNG3 in 65 nuclear families with a proband with CAE. The maximum NPL score was 2.87 (p<0.002). Re-sequencing of the coding exons in 59 patients did not identify any putative causal variants. A linkage disequilibrium (LD) map of CACNG3 was constructed using 23 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Transmission disequilibrium was sought using individual SNPs and SNP-based haplotypes with the pedigree disequilibrium test in 217 CAE trios and the 65 nuclear pedigrees.
Evidence for transmission disequilibrium (p≤0.01) was found for SNPs within a ∼35kb region of high LD encompassing the 5′UTR, exon 1 and part of intron 1 of CACNG3. Re-sequencing of this interval was undertaken in 24 affected individuals. Seventy-two variants were identified: 45 upstream; two 5′UTR; and 25 intronic SNPs. No coding sequence variants were identified, although four variants are predicted to affect exonic splicing.
This evidence supports CACNG3 as a susceptibility locus in a subset of CAE patients.
PMCID: PMC2556708  PMID: 17264864
Absence epilepsy; linkage; association; CACNG3; genetics; splice variants

Results 1-7 (7)