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White matter development in children with benign childhood epilepsy with centro-temporal spikes

Carolina Ciumas, Mani Saignavongs, Faustine Ilski, Vania Herbillon, Agathe Laurent, Amelie Lothe, Rolf A Heckemann, Julitta de Bellescize, Eleni Panagiotakaki, Salem Hannoun, Dominique Sappey Marinier, Alexandra Montavont, Karine Ostrowsky-Coste, Nathalie Bedoin, Philippe Ryvlin
Brain 2014, 137 (Pt 4): 1095-106
24598359
Benign childhood epilepsy with centro-temporal spikes (BCECTS) is a unique form of non-lesional age-dependent epilepsy with rare seizures, focal electroencepalographic abnormalities affecting the same well delineated cortical region in most patients, and frequent mild to moderate cognitive dysfunctions. In this condition, it is hypothesized that interictal electroencepalographic discharges might interfere with local brain maturation, resulting in altered cognition. Diffusion tensor imaging allows testing of this hypothesis by investigating the white matter microstructure, and has previously proved sensitive to epilepsy-related alterations of fractional anisotropy and diffusivity. However, no diffusion tensor imaging study has yet been performed with a focus on BCECTS. We investigated 25 children suffering from BCECTS and 25 age-matched control subjects using diffusion tensor imaging, 3D-T1 magnetic resonance imaging, and a battery of neuropsychological tests including Conner's scale and Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (fourth revision). Electroencephalography was also performed in all patients within 2 months of the magnetic resonance imaging assessment. Parametric maps of fractional anisotropy, mean-, radial-, and axial diffusivity were extracted from diffusion tensor imaging data. Patients were compared with control subjects using voxel-based statistics and family-wise error correction for multiple comparisons. Each patient was also compared to control subjects. Fractional anisotropy and diffusivity images were correlated to neuropsychological and clinical variables. Group analysis showed significantly reduced fractional anisotropy and increased diffusivity in patients compared with control subjects, predominantly over the left pre- and postcentral gyri and ipsilateral to the electroencephalographic focus. At the individual level, regions of significant differences were observed in 10 patients (40%) for anisotropy (eight reduced fractional anisotropy, one increased fractional anisotropy, one both), and 17 (56%) for diffusivity (13 increased, one reduced, three both). There were significant negative correlations between fractional anisotropy maps and duration of epilepsy in the precentral gyri, bilaterally, and in the left postcentral gyrus. Accordingly, 9 of 12 patients (75%) with duration of epilepsy>12 months showed significantly reduced fractional anisotropy versus none of the 13 patients with duration of epilepsy≤12 months. Diffusivity maps positively correlated with duration of epilepsy in the cuneus. Children with BCECTS demonstrate alterations in the microstructure of the white matter, undetectable with conventional magnetic resonance imaging, predominating over the regions displaying chronic interictal epileptiform discharges. The association observed between diffusion tensor imaging changes, duration of epilepsy and cognitive performance appears compatible with the hypothesis that interictal epileptic activity alters brain maturation, which could in turn lead to cognitive dysfunction. However, such cross-sectional association does not demonstrate causality, and other hitherto unidentified factors could represent the common cause to part or all of the observed findings.

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