Genetic Landscape of Common Epilepsies: Advancing towards Precision in Treatment

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Oct 21;21(20):7784. doi: 10.3390/ijms21207784.


Epilepsy, a neurological disease characterized by recurrent seizures, is highly heterogeneous in nature. Based on the prevalence, epilepsy is classified into two types: common and rare epilepsies. Common epilepsies affecting nearly 95% people with epilepsy, comprise generalized epilepsy which encompass idiopathic generalized epilepsy like childhood absence epilepsy, juvenile myoclonic epilepsy, juvenile absence epilepsy and epilepsy with generalized tonic-clonic seizure on awakening and focal epilepsy like temporal lobe epilepsy and cryptogenic focal epilepsy. In 70% of the epilepsy cases, genetic factors are responsible either as single genetic variant in rare epilepsies or multiple genetic variants acting along with different environmental factors as in common epilepsies. Genetic testing and precision treatment have been developed for a few rare epilepsies and is lacking for common epilepsies due to their complex nature of inheritance. Precision medicine for common epilepsies require a panoramic approach that incorporates polygenic background and other non-genetic factors like microbiome, diet, age at disease onset, optimal time for treatment and other lifestyle factors which influence seizure threshold. This review aims to comprehensively present a state-of-art review of all the genes and their genetic variants that are associated with all common epilepsy subtypes. It also encompasses the basis of these genes in the epileptogenesis. Here, we discussed the current status of the common epilepsy genetics and address the clinical application so far on evidence-based markers in prognosis, diagnosis, and treatment management. In addition, we assessed the diagnostic predictability of a few genetic markers used for disease risk prediction in individuals. A combination of deeper endo-phenotyping including pharmaco-response data, electro-clinical imaging, and other clinical measurements along with genetics may be used to diagnose common epilepsies and this marks a step ahead in precision medicine in common epilepsies management.

Keywords: common epilepsies; epilepsy; genetic biomarker; genetic generalized epilepsy; genetics; ion channel receptors; molecular markers; precision treatment; prognosis; seizures.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • DNA Copy Number Variations
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy / drug therapy*
  • Epilepsy / genetics*
  • Epilepsy, Absence / genetics
  • Epilepsy, Generalized / genetics
  • Genetic Markers
  • Humans
  • Pharmacogenomic Testing
  • Precision Medicine / methods
  • Prognosis
  • Seizures / genetics
  • Time Factors


  • Genetic Markers

Supplementary concepts

  • Epilepsy, Idiopathic Generalized