Voxel-based morphometry in patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsies

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Abstract

Idiopathic generalized epilepsies (IGE) are a group of frequent age-related epilepsy syndromes. IGE are clinically characterized by generalized tonic–clonic, myoclonic and absence seizures. According to predominant seizure type and age of onset, IGE are divided in subsyndromes: childhood absence and juvenile absence epilepsy (AE), juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME) and generalized tonic–clonic seizures on awakening (GTCS). The limits between these subsyndromes are not well defined, supporting the existence of only one major syndrome. Visual assessment of routine magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in patients with IGE is normal. MRI voxel-based morphometry (VBM) uses automatically segmented gray and white matter for comparisons, eliminating the investigator bias. We used VBM to study 120 individuals (47 controls, 44 with JME, 24 with AE and 15 with GTCS) to investigate the presence of subtle structural abnormalities in IGE subsyndromes. VBM was performed searching for abnormalities on gray matter concentration (GMC) between patients groups and controls. Compared to controls, JME presented increased GMC in frontobasal region and AE showed increased GMC in the superior mesiofrontal region. The GTCS group did not differ from controls. There were no areas of reduced GMC with the statistical level selected. Region of interest analysis showed increased GMC in the anterior portion of the thalamus in patients with absence seizures. Our results support subtle GMC abnormalities in patients with JME and AE when compared to controls. These findings suggest the existence of different patterns of cortical abnormalities in IGE subsyndromes.

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