Periodic electroencephalographic discharges and epileptic spasms involve cortico-striatal-thalamic loops on Arterial Spin Labeling Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Source : Brain Commun.

Pmid / DOI: 36324869


Periodic discharges are a rare peculiar electroencephalogram pattern, occasionally associated with motor or other clinical manifestations, usually observed in critically ill patients. Their underlying pathophysiology remains poorly understood. Epileptic spasms in clusters and periodic discharges with motor manifestations share similar electroencephalogram pattern and some aetiologies of unfavourable prognosis such as subacute sclerosing panencephalitis or herpes encephalitis. Arterial spin labelling magnetic resonance imaging identifies localizing ictal and inter-ictal changes in neurovascular coupling, therefore assumed able to reveal concerned cerebral structures. Here, we retrospectively analysed ictal and inter-ictal arterial spin labelling magnetic resonance imaging in patients aged 6 months to 15 years (median 3 years 4 months) with periodic discharges including epileptic spasms, and compared these findings with those of patients with drug-resistant focal epilepsy who never presented periodic discharges nor epileptic spasms as well as to those of age-matched healthy controls. Ictal electroencephalogram was recorded either simultaneously with arterial spin labelling magnetic resonance imaging or during the close time lapse of patients' periodic discharges, whereas inter-ictal examinations were performed during the patients' active epilepsy but without seizures during the arterial spin labelling magnetic resonance imaging. Ictal arterial spin labelling magnetic resonance imaging was acquired in five patients with periodic discharges [subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (1), stroke-like events (3), West syndrome with cortical malformation (1), two of them also had inter-ictal arterial spin labelling magnetic resonance imaging]. Inter-ictal group included patients with drug-resistant epileptic spasms of various aetiologies (14) and structural drug-resistant focal epilepsy (8). Cortex, striatum and thalamus were segmented and divided in six functional subregions: prefrontal, motor (rostral, caudal), parietal, occipital and temporal. Rest cerebral blood flow values, absolute and relative to whole brain, were compared with those of age-matched controls for each subregion. Main findings were diffuse striatal as well as cortical motor cerebral blood flow increase during ictal examinations in generalized periodic discharges with motor manifestations (subacute sclerosing panencephalitis) and focal cerebral blood flow increase in corresponding cortical-striatal-thalamic subdivisions in lateralized periodic discharges with or without motor manifestations (stroke-like events and asymmetrical epileptic spasms) with straight topographical correlation with the electroencephalogram focus. For inter-ictal examinations, patients with epileptic spasms disclosed cerebral blood flow changes in corresponding cortical-striatal-thalamic subdivisions (absolute-cerebral blood flow decrease and relative-cerebral blood flow increase), more frequently when compared with the group of drug-resistant focal epilepsies, and not related to Vigabatrin treatment. Our results suggest that corresponding cortical-striatal-thalamic circuits are involved in periodic discharges with and without motor manifestations, including epileptic spasms, opening new insights in their pathophysiology and new therapeutical perspectives. Based on these findings, we propose a model for the generation of periodic discharges and of epileptic spasms combining existing pathophysiological models of cortical-striatal-thalamic network dynamics.

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