Univariate genetic analyses of epilepsy and seizures in a population-based twin study: the Virginia Twin Registry

L L Miller, J M Pellock, R J DeLorenzo, J M Meyer, L A Corey
Genetic Epidemiology 1998, 15 (1): 33-49
The purpose of this study was to examine the roles of genetic and environmental factors in the etiology of epilepsy and seizures in twins ascertained from the Virginia Twin Registry. Health history information on twins was collected by questionnaire. Concordance rates were calculated and used to estimate degree of concordance for seizure types in monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twin pairs. Univariate twin analyses were performed for each epilepsy and seizure type to determine models which best explained observed variation. Health history information concerning epilepsy and febrile seizure occurrences was provided by members of 8,655 twin pairs; 6,684 of these supplied additional information reporting absence, complex partial, tonic-clonic, and unspecified seizures. Models including additive genetic and unique environmental factors best explained febrile seizures, epilepsy, complex partial seizures, and unspecified seizures. For complex partial seizures, however, the contributions of genetic and environmental effects did not vary across gender. These results show that, under univariate analysis methods, genetic factors played an important role in the expression of seizures in epilepsy, febrile seizures, unspecified seizures, and complex partial seizures. Additional support for these findings was provided by the concordance results for all categories except male twins reporting complex partial seizure occurrence. However, environmental influences still remained an important factor in seizure expression in these specific categories.

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