Patterns of Gray Matter Abnormalities in Idiopathic Generalized Epilepsy: A Meta-Analysis of Voxel-Based Morphology Studies

PLoS One. 2017 Jan 6;12(1):e0169076. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0169076. eCollection 2017.


Objective: We aimed to identify the consistent regions of gray matter volume (GMV) abnormalities in idiopathic generalized epilepsy (IGE), and to study the difference of GMV abnormalities among IGE subsyndromes by applying activation likelihood estimation (ALE) meta-analysis.

Methods: A systematic review of VBM studies on GMV of patients with absence epilepsy (AE), juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME), IGE and controls indexed in PubMed and ScienceDirect from January 1999 to June 2016 was conducted. A total of 12 IGE studies, including 7 JME and 3 AE studies, were selected. Meta-analysis was performed on these studies by using the pooled and within-subtypes analysis ( Based on the above results, between-subtypes contrast analysis was carried out to detect the abnormal GMV regions common in and unique to each subtype as well.

Results: IGE demonstrated significant GMV increase in right ventral lateral nucleus (VL) and right medial frontal gyrus, and significant GMV decrease in bilateral pulvinar. For JME, significant GMV increase was seen in right medial frontal gyrus, right anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), while significant GMV decrease was found in right pulvinar. In AE, the most significant GMV increase was found in right VL, and slight GMV reduction was seen in right medial dorsal nucleus, right subcallosal gyrus, left caudate and left precuneus. No overlapped and unique regions with significant GMV abnormalities were found between JME and AE.

Significance: This meta-analysis demonstrated that thalamo-frontal network was a structure with significant GMV abnormality in IGE, and the IGE subsyndromes showed different GMV abnormal regions. These observations may provide instructions on the clinical diagnosis of IGE.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Epilepsy, Generalized / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Gray Matter / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Organ Size

Supplementary concepts

  • Epilepsy, Idiopathic Generalized

Grants and funding

The study was funded by Shenzhen University R/D Fund (Project No. 836000005) and Seed Funding from Scientific and Technical Innovation Council of Shenzhen Government (Project No. 000048).