Genetic Forms of Epilepsies and Other Paroxysmal Disorders

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Abstract

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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