Contralateral interictal spikes are related to tapetum damage in left temporal lobe epilepsy.

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This article has been peer reviewed. It was published in: Epilepsia.

Volume 55, Issue 9, 2014, Pages 1406-1414.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.1111/epi.12721

Copyright © 2014 International League Against Epilepsy.


OBJECTIVE: In temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), the epileptogenic focus is focal and unilateral in the majority of patients. A key characteristic of focal TLE is the presence of subclinical epileptiform activity in both the ictal and contralateral "healthy" hemisphere. Such interictal activity is clinically important, as it may reflect the spread of pathology, potentially leading to secondary epileptogenesis. The role played by white matter pathways in this process is unknown.

METHODS: We compared three interhemispheric white matter tracts (anterior commissure, fornix, and tapetum) to determine the pathway most associated with the presence of contralateral interictal spikes. Forty patients with unilateral left or right TLE were categorized based on the presence or absence of contralateral interictal spikes. Analyses of variance (ANOVAs) were run on diffusion properties from each tract.

RESULTS: The analyses revealed that patients with left TLE and with bilateral interictal spikes had lower fractional anisotropy (FA) and higher mean diffusivity (MD) in the tapetum. Patients with right TLE did not show this effect. No significant associations with bilateral activity were observed for the other tracts. Blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) functional connectivity data revealed that homotopic lateral, not mesial, temporal areas were reliably correlated in bilateral patients, independent of ictal side.

SIGNIFICANCE: Our results indicate that, among the tracts investigated, only the tapetum was associated with contralateral epileptiform activity, implicating this structure in seizures and possible secondary epileptogenesis. We describe two mechanisms that might explain this association (the interruption of inhibitory signals or the toxic effect of carrying epileptiform signals toward the healthy hemisphere), but also acknowledge other rival factors that may be at work. We also report that patients with TLE with bilateral spikes had increased lateral bitemporal lobe connectivity. Our current results can be seen as bringing together important functional and structural data to elucidate the basis of contralateral interictal activity in focal, unilateral epilepsy. A PowerPoint slide summarizing this article is available for download in the Supporting Information section here.

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