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Impact of our understanding of the genetic aetiology of epilepsy.

R M Gardiner

J. Neurol., 2000 May , 247, 327-34

A genetic contribution to aetiology is estimated to be present in up to 40% of patients with epilepsy. It is useful to categorise genetic epilepsies according to the mechanisms of inheritance into Mendelian disorders, non-mendelian or 'complex' disorders, and chromosomal disorders. Over 200 Mendelian diseases include epilepsy as part of the phenotype, and the genes for a number of these have been identified recently. These include autosomal recessive progressive myoclonic epilepsies such as Unverricht-Lundborg disease, Lafora disease and the neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses, and three autosomal dominant idiopathic epilepsies. The last named have been shown to arise from mutations in ion channel genes. Autosomal dominant nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy is caused by mutations in CHRNA4, benign familial neonatal convulsions by mutations in KCNQ2 and KCNQ3, and generalised epilepsy with febrile seizures plus by mutations in SCN1B. 'Complex', familial epilepsies are more difficult to analyse, but evidence has been obtained for loci predisposing to juvenile myoclonic epilepsy on chromosome 6p and 15q. Lastly, the genes underlying several spike-wave epilepsies in mice have been cloned, and three of these encode sub-units of voltage-gated calcium channels.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10896263