Fever, genes, and epilepsy

Lancet Neurol. 2004 Jul;3(7):421-30. doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(04)00808-7.


About 13% of patients with epilepsy have a history of febrile seizures (FS). Studies of familial forms suggest a genetic component to the epidemiological link. Indeed, in certain monogenic forms of FS, for which several loci have been reported, some patients develop epilepsy with a higher risk than in the general population. Patients with generalised epilepsy with febrile seizures plus (GEFS+) can have typical and isolated FS, FS lasting more beyond age 6 years, and subsequent afebrile (typically generalised) seizures. Mutations associated with GEFS+ were identified in genes for subunits of the voltage-gated sodium channel and the gamma2 subunit of the ligand-gated GABAA receptor. Screening for these genes in patients with severe myoclonic epilepsy in infancy showed de novo mutations of the alpha1 subunit of the voltage-gated sodium channel. Antecedent FS are commonly observed in temporal-lobe epilepsy (TLE). In sporadic mesial TLE-characterised by the sequence of complex FS in childhood, hippocampal sclerosis, and refractory temporal-lobe seizures-association studies suggested the role of several susceptibility genes. Work on some large pedigrees also suggests that FS and temporal-lobe seizures may have a common genetic basis, whether hippocampus sclerosis is present or not. The molecular defects identified in the genetic associations of FS and epileptic seizures are very attractive models to aid our understanding of epileptogenesis and susceptibility to seizure-provoking factors, especially fever.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Epilepsy / genetics*
  • Fever / genetics
  • Genetic Linkage / genetics
  • Humans
  • Phenotype
  • Seizures, Febrile / genetics*