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Acta Paediatr. 2009 Mar;98(3):421-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2008.01160.x. Epub 2008 Dec 16.

Neuronal migration disorders: clinical, neuroradiologic and genetics aspects.

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Department of Paediatrics, Division of Child Neurology, University of Rome La Sapienza, Italy.


Disorders of neuronal migration are a heterogeneous group of disorders of nervous system development. One of the most frequent disorders is lissencephaly, characterized by a paucity of normal gyri and sulci resulting in a 'smooth brain'. There are two pathologic subtypes: classical and cobblestone. Six different genes could be responsible for this entity (LIS1, DCX, TUBA1A, VLDLR, ARX, RELN), although co-delection of YWHAE gene with LIS1 could result in Miller-Dieker Syndrome. Heterotopia is defined as a cluster of normal neurons in abnormal locations, and divided into three main groups: periventricular nodular heterotopia, subcortical heterotopia and marginal glioneural heterotopia. Genetically, heterotopia is related to Filamin A (FLNA) or ADP-ribosylation factor guanine exchange factor 2 (ARFGEF2) genes mutations. Polymicrogyria is described as an augmentation of small circonvolutions separated by shallow enlarged sulci; bilateral frontoparietal form is characterized by bilateral, symmetric polymicrogyria in the frontoparietal regions. Bilateral perisylvian polymicrogyria results in a clinical syndrome manifested by mild mental retardation, epilepsy and pseudobulbar palsy. Gene mutations linked to this disorder are SRPX2, PAX6, TBR2, KIAA1279, RAB3GAP1 and COL18A1. Schizencephaly, consisting in a cleft of cerebral hemisphere connecting extra-axial subaracnoid spaces and ventricles, is another important disorder of neuronal migration whose clinical characteristics are extremely variable. EMX2 gene could be implicated in its genesis. Focal cortical dysplasia is characterized by three different types of altered cortical laminations, and represents one of most severe cause of epilepsy in children. TSC1 gene could play a role in its etiology.


This review reports the main clinical, genetical and neuroradiological aspects of these disorders. It is hoped that accumulating data of the development mechanisms underlying the expanded network formation in the brain will lead to the development of therapeutic options for neuronal migration disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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