Whole-brain MRI phenotyping in dysplasia-related frontal lobe epilepsy

Hong SJ, Bernhardt BC, Schrader DS, Bernasconi N, Bernasconi A. Neurology. 2016 Feb 16;86(7):643-50


Objective: To perform whole-brain morphometry in patients with frontal lobe epilepsy and evaluate the utility of group-level patterns for individualized diagnosis and prognosis.

Methods: We compared MRI-based cortical thickness and folding complexity between 2 frontal lobe epilepsy cohorts with histologically verified focal cortical dysplasia (FCD) (13 type I; 28 type II) and 41 closely matched controls. Pattern learning algorithms evaluated the utility of group-level findings to predict histologic FCD subtype, the side of the seizure focus, and postsurgical seizure outcome in single individuals.

Results: Relative to controls, FCD type I displayed multilobar cortical thinning that was most marked in ipsilateral frontal cortices. Conversely, type II showed thickening in temporal and postcentral cortices. Cortical folding also diverged, with increased complexity in prefrontal cortices in type I and decreases in type II. Group-level findings successfully guided automated FCD subtype classification (type I: 100%; type II: 96%), seizure focus lateralization (type I: 92%; type II: 86%), and outcome prediction (type I: 92%; type II: 82%).

Conclusion: FCD subtypes relate to diverse whole-brain structural phenotypes. While cortical thickening in type II may indicate delayed pruning, a thin cortex in type I likely results from combined effects of seizure excitotoxicity and the primary malformation. Group-level patterns have a high translational value in guiding individualized diagnostics.