Febrile seizures and mesial temporal sclerosis

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Purpose of reviewThe sequence of febrile seizures followed by intractable temporal lobe epilepsy is rarely seen from a population perspective. However, several studies have shown a significant relationship between a history of prolonged febrile seizures in early childhood and mesial temporal sclerosis. The interpretation of these observations remains quite controversial. One possibility is that the early febrile seizure damages the hippocampus and is therefore a cause of mesial temporal sclerosis. Another possibility is that the child has a prolonged febrile seizure because the hippocampus was previously damaged by a prenatal or perinatal insult or by genetic predisposition.Recent findingsImaging studies have shown that prolonged and focal febrile seizures can produce acute hippocampal injury that evolves to hippocampal atrophy, and that complex febrile seizures can originate in the temporal lobes in some children. Several lines of evidence now indicate that genetic predisposition is an important causal factor of febrile seizures and mesial temporal sclerosis. From recent clinical and molecular genetic studies, it appears that the relationship between febrile seizures and later epilepsy is frequently genetic, and there are several syndrome-specific genes for febrile seizures.SummaryMesial temporal sclerosis probably has different causes. A number of retrospective studies showed that complex febrile seizures are a causative factor for the later development of mesial temporal sclerosis and temporal lobe epilepsy. However, contradictory results have come from several prospective and retrospective studies. The association between febrile seizures and temporal lobe epilepsy probably results from complex interactions between several genetic and environmental factors.

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