Benign epilepsy with centrotemporal spikes (BECTS) is a common pediatric epilepsy syndrome that has been widely reported to show abnormal brain structure and function. However, the genetic mechanisms underlying structural and functional changes remain largely unknown. Based on the structural and resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging data of 22 drug-naïve children with BECTS and 33 healthy controls, we conducted voxel-based morphology (VBM) and fractional amplitude of low-frequency fluctuation (fALFF) analyses to compare cortical morphology and spontaneous brain activity between the 2 groups. In combination with the Allen Human Brain Atlas, transcriptome-neuroimaging spatial correlation analyses were applied to explore gene expression profiles associated with gray matter volume (GMV) and fALFF changes in BECTS. VBM analysis demonstrated significantly increased GMV in the right brainstem and right middle cingulate gyrus in BECTS. Moreover, children with BECTS exhibited significantly increased fALFF in left temporal pole, while decreased fALFF in right thalamus and left precuneus. These brain structural and functional alterations were closely related to behavioral and cognitive deficits, and the fALFF-linked gene expression profiles were enriched in voltage-gated ion channel and synaptic activity as well as neuron projection. Our findings suggest that brain morphological and functional abnormalities in children with BECTS involve complex polygenic genetic mechanisms.
Keywords: benign epilepsy with centrotemporal spikes; fractional amplitude of low-frequency fluctuation; gene expression; gray matter volume; transcription-neuroimaging association analyses.
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