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Epilepsy Res. 2012 May;99(3):267-73. doi: 10.1016/j.eplepsyres.2011.12.006. Epub 2012 Jan 9.

White matter impairment in the basal ganglia-thalamocortical circuit of drug-naïve childhood absence epilepsy.

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Department of Neurology, West China Hospital, Si Chuan University, Chengdu, Sichuan, PR China.



It is unknown whether white matter abnormalities exist in childhood absence epilepsy (CAE), a syndrome of idiopathic epilepsy (IGE). Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) can noninvasively quantify white matter integrity. This study used DTI to investigate abnormal changes in white matter of untreated CAE patients.


Subjects included nine patients with untreated CAE and nine age-and sex-matched healthy controls. Diffusion tensor imaging parameters were voxel based and statistically compared between patients and controls. The correlations between DTI parameters in regions of interest (ROIs) and age of seizure onset or duration of epilepsy were analyzed.


Untreated CAE patients had a significantly higher fractional anisotropy (FA) value in the bilateral thalamus, anterior corpus callosum and upper brainstem, while also displaying a lower FA value in prefrontal white matter, anterior cingulate, and bilateral posterior limbs of the internal capsule compared to control subjects. An increase in mean diffusivity (MD) value was observed in parietal lobe white matter, prefrontal white matter, and posterior cerebellar hemispheres, in addition to subcortical structures including bilateral putamen and posterior limb of internal capsule. MD significant correlations between ROI diffusion parameters and the duration of the disease or the age of onset.


The results showed white matter integrity impairment in the basal ganglia-thalamocortical circuit of drug-naïve CAE patients. These abnormalities in white matter may be related to increased cortical excitability and cause cognitive, linguistic, and behavioral/emotional deficits both during and between seizures.

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