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Semin Neurol. 2014 Jul;34(3):266-79. doi: 10.1055/s-0034-1386765. Epub 2014 Sep 5.

Genetic forms of epilepsies and other paroxysmal disorders.

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Division of Epilepsy, Department of Neurology, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.


Genetic mechanisms explain the pathophysiology of many forms of epilepsy and other paroxysmal disorders, such as alternating hemiplegia of childhood, familial hemiplegic migraine, and paroxysmal dyskinesias. Epilepsy is a key feature of well-defined genetic syndromes including tuberous sclerosis complex, Rett syndrome, Angelman syndrome, and others. There is an increasing number of single-gene causes or susceptibility factors associated with several epilepsy syndromes, including the early-onset epileptic encephalopathies, benign neonatal/infantile seizures, progressive myoclonus epilepsies, genetic generalized and benign focal epilepsies, epileptic aphasias, and familial focal epilepsies. Molecular mechanisms are diverse, and a single gene can be associated with a broad range of phenotypes. Additional features, such as dysmorphisms, head size, movement disorders, and family history may provide clues to a genetic diagnosis. Genetic testing can impact medical care and counseling. We discuss genetic mechanisms of epilepsy and other paroxysmal disorders, tools and indications for genetic testing, known genotype-phenotype associations, the importance of genetic counseling, and a look toward the future of epilepsy genetics.

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