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Expert Rev Neurother. 2011 Jun;11(6):861-76. doi: 10.1586/ern.11.51.

Etiologies of epilepsy: a comprehensive review.

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Université de Limoges, IFR 145 GEIST, Institut de Neurologie Tropicale, EA 3174 NeuroEpidémiologie Tropicale et Comparée, Limoges, F-87025, France.


Epilepsy is a heterogeneous disorder, the symptoms of which are preventable and controllable to some extent. Significant inter- and intra-country differences in incidence and prevalence exist because multiple etiologic factors are implicated. Many past reviews have addressed sole etiologies. We considered a comprehensive view of all etiologies (genetic/structural/metabolic) to be significant for both the developing and the developed world as well as routine clinical/epidemiology practice. We therefore carried out a comprehensive search for peer-reviewed articles (irrespective of year, region and language; chosen based on novelty and importance) for each etiology. This article was felt to be essential since newer etiologic knowledge has emerged in recent years. Many new genetic links for rarer epilepsy forms have emerged. Epilepsy risk in limbic encephalitis, mechanisms of Alzheimer's-related epilepsy and the genetic basis of cortical malformations have been detailed. An etiological approach to epilepsy in combination with the conventional classification of epilepsy syndromes is required to gain knowledge.

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