What's Current?

Brain's mysteries unraveled through computational neuropsychiatry

Medical News Today - Thu, 12/24/2015 - 06:00
Hebrew University Team uses algorithms, apps to understand Alzheimer's, brain maps.
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Absence of serotonin alters development and function of brain circuits

Medical News Today - Thu, 12/24/2015 - 05:00
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have created the first complete model to describe the role that serotonin plays in brain development and structure.
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Laser interstitial thermal therapy for medically intractable mesial temporal lobe epilepsy

Epilepsia - Thu, 12/24/2015 - 02:38
Summary Objective

To describe mesial temporal lobe ablated volumes, verbal memory, and surgical outcomes in patients with medically intractable mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (mTLE) treated with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)–guided stereotactic laser interstitial thermal therapy (LiTT).

Methods

We prospectively tracked seizure outcome in 20 patients at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital with drug-resistant mTLE who underwent MRI-guided LiTT from December 2011 to December 2014. Surgical outcome was assessed at 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, and at the most recent visit. Volume-based analysis of ablated mesial temporal structures was conducted in 17 patients with mesial temporal sclerosis (MTS) and results were compared between the seizure-free and not seizure-free groups.

Results

Following LiTT, proportions of patients who were free of seizures impairing consciousness (including those with auras only) are as follows: 8 of 15 patients (53%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 30.1–75.2%) after 6 months, 4 of 11 patients (36.4%, 95% CI 14.9–64.8%) after 1 year, 3 of 5 patients (60%, 95% CI 22.9–88.4%) at 2-year follow-up. Median follow-up was 13.4 months after LiTT (range 1.3 months to 3.2 years). Seizure outcome after LiTT suggests an all or none response. Four patients had anterior temporal lobectomy (ATL) after LiTT; three are seizure-free. There were no differences in total ablated volume of the amygdalohippocampus complex or individual volumes of hippocampus, amygdala, entorhinal cortex, parahippocampal gyrus, and fusiform gyrus between seizure-free and non–seizure-free patients. Contextual verbal memory performance was preserved after LiTT, although decline in noncontextual memory task scores were noted.

Significance

We conclude that MRI-guided stereotactic LiTT is a safe alternative to ATL in patients with medically intractable mTLE. Individualized assessment is warranted to determine whether the reduced odds of seizure freedom are worth the reduction in risk, discomfort, and recovery time. Larger prospective studies are needed to confirm our preliminary findings, and to define optimal ablation volume and ideal structures for ablation.

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Correlates of health-related quality of life in adults with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures: A systematic review

Epilepsia - Thu, 12/24/2015 - 00:07
Summary

Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) often have a debilitating effect on patients’ lives. Patients, family members, and clinicians have yet to fully understand the mechanisms and treatment of this disorder. Although reviews exist about epileptic seizures, there have been no systematic reviews of studies focusing on the impact of PNES. This review considers research on factors associated with the health-related quality of life (HRQoL) of patients with PNES. Searches of Medline, PsycINFO, CINAHL, and Cochrane Library were conducted. Search terms identified studies that examined factors associated with HRQoL in PNES. Factors fell into three categories: (1) seizure and somatic factors, (2) psychological factors, and (3) coping strategies and family functioning. Fourteen articles were included. The majority of studies were cross-sectional and were of weak to moderate quality. Depressive symptoms were negatively associated with HRQoL. Other factors associated with poorer HRQoL included dissociation, somatic symptoms, escape-avoidance coping strategies, and family dysfunction. Variables such as seizure frequency and demographic factors were not significantly associated with HRQoL. Psychological and interpersonal factors, not seizure reduction, are important for the HRQoL of patients with PNES. The avoidance of emotions is proposed as a perpetuating factor in the difficulties associated with poorer HRQoL. A biopsychosocial approach has relevance for both the clinical and theoretical understanding of PNES. Larger scale research on psychological and relational factors is needed to inform therapeutic approaches to enhance HRQoL in patients with PNES.

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Thalamic abnormalities in children with continuous spike-wave during slow-wave sleep: An F-18-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography perspective

Epilepsia - Thu, 12/24/2015 - 00:06
Summary Objective

Thalamic injury has been implicated in the development of continuous spike-wave during slow-wave sleep (CSWS) in children with epilepsy. We studied thalamic abnormalities in children with CSWS using F-18-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG)–positron emission tomography (PET) imaging.

Methods

Twenty-three patients (12 male; mean age 9 years) with CSWS and normal thalami on brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) underwent FDG-PET. Thalamic glucose metabolism, represented by standardized uptake value normalized to whole brain (nSUV, RT for right thalamus and LT for left thalamus), and its asymmetry—absolute asymmetry index (AAI): ¦(RT-LT)¦*100/[(RT+LT)/2]—was calculated. These values were compared with those from 10 normal healthy controls (five female; mean age 11.1 years).

Results

Thalamic glucose metabolism was abnormal in 18 patients (78.3%). Thalamic nSUV was decreased (n = 6) or increased (n = 1) bilaterally in seven children without any asymmetry. Abnormal thalamic symmetry [AAI = 3.7–31.5% (0.8–3.3% in controls)] was seen in 11 children. Of these, six children had a unilateral thalamic metabolic abnormality (increased metabolism, n = 3 and decreased metabolism, n = 3), whereas 5 of 14 children had abnormal asymmetry index with bilaterally normal (n = 4) or increased (n = 1) thalamic metabolism. No clear association of thalamic metabolic abnormalities was seen with the stage of evolution of CSWS (prodromal, acute, or residual) or with the cortical FDG abnormalities.

Significance

Functional thalamic abnormalities, both unilateral and bilateral, are frequently seen in patients with CSWS. FDG-PET is a sensitive and quantifiable modality to detect these changes.

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The Hippocampus Participates in a Pharmacological Rat Model of Absence Seizures

Epilepsy Research Journal - Thu, 12/24/2015 - 00:00
Absence epilepsy is a genetic epilepsy syndrome with generalized seizures that originate from local areas and rapidly engage bilaterally distributed networks (Berg et al., 2010). Typical absence seizures make up the primary seizure type in a number of absence epilepsy syndromes, including childhood absence epilepsy and juvenile absence epilepsy (ILAE, 1989), which differ mainly in age of onset. Seizures commonly manifest between the age of four years and early adolescence and are more prevalent in females.
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Marijuana derivative reduces seizures in people with treatment-resistant epilepsy

Science Daily - Wed, 12/23/2015 - 22:15
Cannabidiol (CBD), a medical marijuana derivative, was effective in reducing seizure frequency and well-tolerated and safe for most children and young adults enrolled in a year-long study, researchers report. These latest findings provide the first estimates of safety, tolerability and efficacy of prescription CBD in children and adults with severe, highly treatment-resistant epilepsy.
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Age-dependent mesial temporal lobe lateralization in language fMRI

Epilepsia - Wed, 12/23/2015 - 03:55
Summary Objective

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) activation of the mesial temporal lobe (MTL) may be important for epilepsy surgical planning. We examined MTL activation and lateralization during language fMRI in children and adults with focal epilepsy.

Methods

One hundred forty-two controls and patients with left hemisphere focal epilepsy (pediatric: epilepsy, n = 17, mean age = 9.9 ± 2.0; controls, n = 48; mean age = 9.1 ± 2.6; adult: epilepsy, n = 20, mean age = 26.7 ± 5.8; controls, n = 57, mean age = 26.2 ± 7.5) underwent 3T fMRI using a language task (auditory description decision task). Image processing and analyses were conducted using Statistical Parametric Mapping (SPM8); regions of interest (ROIs) included MTL, Broca's area, and Wernicke's area. We assessed group and individual MTL activation, and examined degree of lateralization.

Results

Patients and controls (pediatric and adult) demonstrated group and individual MTL activation during language fMRI. MTL activation was left lateralized for adults, but less so in children (p's < 0.005). Patients did not differ from controls in either age group. Stronger left-lateralized MTL activation was related to older age (p = 0.02). Language lateralization (Broca's and Wernicke's) predicted 19% of the variance in MTL lateralization for adults (p = 0.001), but for not children.

Significance

Language fMRI may be used to elicit group and individual MTL activation. The developmental difference in MTL lateralization and its association with language lateralization suggests a developmental shift in lateralization of MTL function, with increased left lateralization across the age span. This shift may help explain why children have better memory outcomes following resection compared to adults.

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The diagnostic utility of 3D electroencephalography source imaging in pediatric epilepsy surgery

Epilepsia - Wed, 12/23/2015 - 03:41
Summary Objective

The aim of this study was to investigate the utility of three-dimensional electroencephalography source imaging (3D-ESI) with low-resolution electroencephalographic data in the pediatric noninvasive presurgical evaluation, and to compare the findings with positron emission tomography (PET) and ictal single-photon emission computed tomography (iSPECT).

Methods

We retrospectively selected 60 patients from a database of 594 patients who underwent excisional surgery for drug-resistant epilepsy. Patients were <18 years at time of surgery, had at least one presurgical volumetric brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and at least 1 year of outcome data. 3D-ESI was performed with NeuroScan software CURRY V.7.0. For each patient the surgical resection was planned utilizing 3D-ESI as an adjunctive tool to supplement MRI and electrocorticographic data. Our analyses addressed three critical variables: pathology (focal cortical dysplasia vs. other pathologies), imaging (MRI negative vs. positive cases), and surgery (temporal resection vs. extratemporal and multilobar resections). We also compared the localizing utility and surgical outcome of 3D-ESI findings with PET, iSPECT, and the colocalized surgical resection. Statistical analyses were performed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences, Version 20.

Results

Mean age at surgery was 11.18 years (range 1–18 years). 3D-ESI showed a strong correlation with the surgical resection cavity (65.0%), particularly within the temporal lobe. 3D-ESI demonstrated better localization in MRI-negative cases (78.6%), which was not statistically significant. 3D-ESI also correlated with a superior surgical outcome profile compared to PET and iSPECT.

Significance

Our findings demonstrate that 3D-ESI data obtained with low-resolution electroencephalography achieves reasonably accurate noninvasive localization of epileptic spikes in pediatric focal epilepsy, especially in temporal lobe and MRI-negative cases, and is comparable to iSPECT and PET. Given its lesser expense and lack of radiation exposure, 3D-ESI is a useful and efficient tool for evaluating surgical candidacy in pediatric epilepsy surgery centers, particularly if PET and iSPECT are unavailable.

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Long-term reduction of health care costs and utilization after epilepsy surgery

Epilepsia - Wed, 12/23/2015 - 00:13
Summary Objective

To assess long-term direct medical costs, health care utilization, and mortality following resective surgery in persons with uncontrolled epilepsy.

Methods

Retrospective longitudinal cohort study of Medicaid beneficiaries with epilepsy from 2000 to 2008. The study population included 7,835 persons with uncontrolled focal epilepsy ages 18–64 years, with an average follow-up time of 5 years. Of these, 135 received surgery during the study period. To account for selection bias, we used risk-set optimal pairwise matching on a time-varying propensity score, and inverse probability of treatment weighting. Repeated measures generalized linear models were used to model utilization and cost outcomes. Cox proportional hazard was used to model survival.

Results

The mean direct medical cost difference between the surgical group and control group was $6,806 after risk-set matching. The incidence rate ratio of inpatient, emergency room, and outpatient utilization was lower among the surgical group in both unadjusted and adjusted analyses. There was no significant difference in mortality after adjustment. Among surgical cases, mean annual costs per subject were on average $6,484 lower, and all utilization measures were lower after surgery compared to before.

Significance

Subjects that underwent epilepsy surgery had lower direct medical care costs and health care utilization. These findings support that epilepsy surgery yields substantial health care cost savings.

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A pilot randomized controlled clinical trial to improve antiepileptic drug adherence in young children with epilepsy

Epilepsia - Wed, 12/23/2015 - 00:12
Summary

The primary aim was to examine the preliminary efficacy of a family tailored problem-solving intervention to improve antiepileptic drug (AED) adherence in families of children with new-onset epilepsy. Secondary aims were to assess changes in targeted mechanisms and treatment feasibility and acceptability. Fifty families (Mage = 7.6 ± 3.0; 80% Caucasian; 42% idiopathic localization related) completed baseline questionnaires and were given an electronic monitor to observe daily AED adherence. If adherence was ≤ 95% in the first 7 months of the study, families were randomized (Supporting Treatment Adherence Regimens (STAR): n = 11; Treatment as Usual (TAU): n = 12). Twenty-one families were not randomized due to adherence being ≥95%. The STAR intervention included four face-to-face and two telephone problem-solving sessions over 8 weeks. Significant group differences in adherence were found during active intervention (weeks 4–6; TAU = −12.0 vs. STAR = 18.1, p < 0.01; and weeks session 6–8: TAU = −9.7 vs. STAR = 15.3, p < 0.05). Children who received the STAR intervention exhibited improved adherence compared to children in the TAU group during active treatment. Significant changes in epilepsy knowledge and management were noted for the STAR group. Families expressed benefitting from the STAR intervention. Future studies should include a larger sample size and booster intervention sessions to maintain treatment effects over time.

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Parents’ interest in genetic testing of their offspring in multiplex epilepsy families

Epilepsia - Tue, 12/22/2015 - 23:38
Summary Objective

To evaluate parents’ interest in genetic testing of their offspring in families containing multiple individuals with epilepsy.

Methods

Seventy-seven parents with affected offspring and 173 parents without affected offspring from families containing multiple individuals with epilepsy completed a questionnaire asking about their interest in genetic testing of their offspring. Interest in testing was ascertained in four scenarios defined by clinical utility and penetrance of the gene in the test (100% vs. 50%). Pairwise agreement in interest was assessed between parents for testing themselves versus their offspring, and between mothers and fathers for their offspring.

Results

Among parents with affected offspring, the proportion interested in genetic testing of offspring (“diagnostic testing”) was 86% in the 100% penetrance, clinical utility scenario, and 71% in the 100% penetrance, no clinical utility scenario (p = 0.007). Among parents without affected offspring, comparable proportions interested in genetic testing of offspring (“predictive testing”) were 74% and 53% (p < 0.001), and were significantly lower than in parents with affected offspring (clinical utility, p = 0.02; no clinical utility, p = 0.01). Interest in testing did not differ by gene penetrance. Parents’ agreement in testing interest for themselves versus their offspring was “substantial” (90% agreement, κ = 0.72) for a test with clinical utility, and “almost perfect” for a test without clinical utility (94% agreement, κ = 0.88). Agreement in testing interest between mothers and fathers was “moderate” for a test with clinical utility (85% agreement, κ = 0.48,), and “fair” for a test without clinical utility (67% agreement, κ = 0.30).

Significance

Interest in diagnostic genetic testing is strong among parents with offspring with epilepsy, particularly when the test offers clinical utility. Testing interest is lower for a diagnostic test without clinical utility, or for a predictive test in offspring at risk of developing epilepsy in the future.

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Blood–brain barrier leakage after status epilepticus in rapamycin-treated rats II: Potential mechanisms

Epilepsia - Tue, 12/22/2015 - 06:32
Summary Objective

Blood–brain barrier (BBB) leakage may play a pro-epileptogenic role after status epilepticus. In the accompanying contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (CE-MRI) study we showed that the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitor rapamycin reduced BBB leakage and seizure activity during the chronic epileptic phase. Given rapamycin's role in growth and immune response, the potential therapeutic effects of rapamycin after status epilepticus with emphasis on brain inflammation and brain vasculature were investigated.

Methods

Seven weeks after kainic acid–induced status epilepticus, rats were perfusion fixed and (immuno)histochemistry was performed using several glial and vascular markers. In addition, an in vitro model for the human BBB was used to determine the effects of rapamycin on transendothelial electrical resistance as a measure for BBB integrity.

Results

(Immuno)histochemistry showed that local blood vessel density, activated microglia, and astrogliosis were reduced in rapamycin-treated rats compared to vehicle-treated rats. In vitro studies showed that rapamycin could attenuate TNFα-induced endothelial barrier breakdown.

Significance

These data suggest that rapamycin improves BBB function during the chronic epileptic phase by a reduction of local brain inflammation and blood vessel density that can contribute to a milder form of epilepsy.

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Blood–brain barrier leakage after status epilepticus in rapamycin-treated rats I: Magnetic resonance imaging

Epilepsia - Tue, 12/22/2015 - 06:31
Summary Objective

The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway has received increasing attention as a potential antiepileptogenic target. Treatment with the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin after status epilepticus reduces the development of epilepsy in a rat model. To study whether rapamycin mediates this effect via restoration of blood–brain barrier (BBB) dysfunction, contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (CE-MRI) was used to determine BBB permeability throughout epileptogenesis.

Methods

Imaging was repeatedly performed until 6 weeks after kainic acid–induced status epilepticus in rapamycin (6 mg/kg for 6 weeks starting 4 h after SE) and vehicle-treated rats, using gadobutrol as contrast agent. Seizures were detected using video monitoring in the week following the last imaging session.

Results

Gadobutrol leakage was widespread and extensive in both rapamycin and vehicle-treated epileptic rats during the acute phase, with the piriform cortex and amygdala as the most affected regions. Gadobutrol leakage was higher in rapamycin-treated rats 4 and 8 days after status epilepticus compared to vehicle-treated rats. However, during the chronic epileptic phase, gadobutrol leakage was lower in rapamycin-treated epileptic rats along with a decreased seizure frequency. This was confirmed by local fluorescein staining in the brains of the same rats. Total brain volume was reduced by this rapamycin treatment regimen.

Significance

The initial slow recovery of BBB function in rapamycin-treated epileptic rats indicates that rapamycin does not reduce seizure activity by a gradual recovery of BBB integrity. The reduced BBB leakage during the chronic phase, however, could contribute to the decreased seizure frequency in post–status epilepticus rats treated with rapamycin. Furthermore, the data show that CE-MRI (using step-down infusion with gadobutrol) can be used as biomarker for monitoring the effect of drug therapy in rats.

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Children with epilepsy are at increased risk of dying early

Medical News Today - Tue, 12/22/2015 - 06:00
While epilepsy and migraines in children and adolescents are closely related neurologic disorders, youth with epilepsy face a significantly higher risk of dying prematurely.
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New research from Harvard, MGH, and Stanford maps brain connections that regulate homeostasis

Medical News Today - Mon, 12/21/2015 - 05:00
New visualization evidence from a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) study of the human brain demonstrated previously unidentified structural connections between the brainstem and the forebrain.
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Clarification Statement

Epilepsia - Sat, 12/19/2015 - 02:07
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Epilepsy with temporal encephalocele: Characteristics of electrocorticography and surgical outcome

Epilepsia - Sat, 12/19/2015 - 01:49
Summary

Temporal lobe encephaloceles (TEs) are increasingly identified in patients with epilepsy due to advances in neuroimaging. Select patients become seizure-free with lesionectomy. In practice, however, many of these patients will undergo standard anterior temporal lobectomy. Herein we report on the first series of patients with refractory temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) with encephalocele to undergo chronic or intraoperative electrocorticography (ECoG) in order to characterize the putative epileptogenic nature of these lesions and help guide surgical planning. This retrospective study includes nine adult patients with magnetic resonance imaging/computed tomography (MRI/CT)–defined temporal encephalocele treated between 2007 and 2014 at University of California San Francisco (UCSF). Clinical features, ECoG, imaging, and surgical outcomes are reviewed. Six patients underwent resective epilepsy surgery. Each case demonstrated abnormal epileptiform discharges around the cortical area of the encephalocele. Two underwent tailored lesionectomy and four underwent lesionectomy plus anterior medial temporal resection. Postoperatively, five patients, including both with lesionectomy only, had Engel class Ia surgical outcome, and one had a class IIb surgical outcome. The role of TE in the pathogenesis of epilepsy is uncertain. ECoG can confirm the presence of interictal epileptiform discharges and seizures arising from these lesions. Patients overall had a very good surgical prognosis, even with selective surgical approaches.

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Cortical interneuron dysfunction in epilepsy associated with autism spectrum disorders

Epilepsia - Sat, 12/19/2015 - 01:49
Summary

Autism and epilepsy are two associated disorders that are highly prevalent, share common developmental origins, and demonstrate substantial heritability. In this review, cross-disciplinary data in a rapidly evolving field that bridges neurology and psychiatry are synthesized to identify shared biologic mechanisms. The relationship between these debilitating, lifelong conditions is examined at the clinical, genetic, and neurophysiologic levels in humans and in animal models. Scopus and PubMed searches were used to identify relevant literature. Clinical observations have prompted speculation about the interdependence of autism and epilepsy, but causal relationships have proved difficult to determine. Despite their heritability, the genetic basis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and epilepsy has remained largely elusive until the advent of next-generation sequencing. This approach has revealed that mutations that are either causal or confer an increased disease risk are found in numerous different genes, any one of which accounts for only a small percentage of cases. Conversely, even cases with identical clinical phenotypes can be genetically heterogeneous. Candidate gene identification has facilitated the development of mouse genetic models, which in parallel with human studies have implicated shared brain regions and circuits that mediate disease expression. Diverse genetic causes of ASD and epilepsy converge on cortical interneuron circuits as one important mediator of both disorders. Cortical interneurons are among the most diverse cell types in the brain and their unique chemical and electrical coupling exert a powerful inhibitory influence on excitatory neurons via the release of the neurotransmitter, γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA). These multifaceted approaches have validated theories derived from the field of developmental neurobiology, which propose that the neurologic and neuropsychiatric manifestations are caused by an altered ratio of excitation to inhibition in the cortex.

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Scientists identify mechanisms to reduce epileptic seizures following TBI

Medical News Today - Fri, 12/18/2015 - 08:00
UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers have found that halting production of new neurons in the brain following traumatic brain injury can help reduce resulting epileptic seizures, cognitive...
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