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Epilepsia. 2005;46 Suppl 1:32-7.

Genetic malformations of the cerebral cortex and epilepsy.

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Epilepsy, Neurophysiology and Neurogenetics Unit, Division of Child Neurology and Psychiatry, University of Pisa and Research Institute Stella Maris Foundation, Pisa, Italy.


We reviewed the epileptogenic cortical malformations for which a causative gene has been cloned or a linkage obtained. X-linked bilateral periventricular nodular heterotopia (BPNH) consists of typical BPNH with epilepsy in female patients and prenatal lethality in most males. About 90% of patients have focal epilepsy. Filamin A mutations have been reported in all families and in approximately 20% of sporadic patients. A rare recessive form of BPNH also has been reported. Most cases of lissencephaly-pachygyria are caused by mutations of LIS1 and XLIS genes. LIS1 mutations cause a more severe malformation posteriorly. Most children have isolated lissencephaly, with severe developmental delay and infantile spasms, but milder phenotypes have been recorded. XLIS usually causes anteriorly predominant lissencephaly in male patients and subcortical band heterotopia (SBH) in female patients. Thickness of the band and severity of pachygyria correlate with the likelihood of developing Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Mutations of the coding region of XLIS are found in all reported pedigrees and in 50% of sporadic female patients with SBH. Autosomal recessive lissencephaly with cerebellar hypoplasia; accompanied by severe delay, hypotonia, and seizures, has been associated with mutations of the RELN gene. Schizencephaly has a wide anatomoclinical spectrum, including focal epilepsy in most patients. Familial occurrence is rare. Initial reports of heterozygous mutations in the EMX2 gene need confirmation. Among several syndromes featuring polymicrogyria, bilateral perisylvian polymicrogyria shows genetic heterogeneity, including linkage to Xq28 in some pedigrees, autosomal recessive inheritance in others, and association with 22q11.2 deletion in some patients. About 65% of patients have severe epilepsy, often Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Recessive bilateral frontal polymicrogyria has been linked to chromosome 16q12.2-21.

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