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Acta Neuropathologica Communications


Focal cortical dysplasia type II (FCDII) is the most common cause of drug-resistant focal epilepsy in children. Herein, we performed a deep histopathology-based genotype–phenotype analysis to further elucidate the clinico-pathological and genetic presentation of FCDIIa compared to FCDIIb. Seventeen individuals with histopathologically confirmed diagnosis of FCD ILAE Type II and a pathogenic variant detected in brain derived DNA whole-exome sequencing or mTOR gene panel sequencing were included in this study. Clinical data were directly available from each contributing centre. Histopathological analyses were performed from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue samples using haematoxylin–eosin and immunohistochemistry for NF-SMI32, NeuN, pS6, p62, and vimentin. Ten individuals carried loss-of-function variants in the GATOR1 complex encoding genes DEPDC5 (n = 7) and NPRL3 (n = 3), or gain-of-function variants in MTOR (n = 7). Whereas individuals with GATOR1 variants only presented with FCDIIa, i.e., lack of balloon cells, individuals with MTOR variants presented with both histopathology subtypes, FCDIIa and FCDIIb. Interestingly, 50% of GATOR1-positive cases showed a unique and predominantly vacuolizing phenotype with p62 immunofluorescent aggregates in autophagosomes. All cases with GATOR1 alterations had neurosurgery in the frontal lobe and the majority was confined to the cortical ribbon not affecting the white matter. This pattern was reflected by subtle or negative MRI findings in seven individuals with GATOR1 variants. Nonetheless, all individuals were seizure-free after surgery except four individuals carrying a DEPDC5 variant. We describe a yet underrecognized genotype–phenotype correlation of GATOR1 variants with FCDIIa in the frontal lobe. These lesions were histopathologically characterized by abnormally vacuolizing cells suggestive of an autophagy-altered phenotype. In contrast, individuals with FCDIIb and brain somatic MTOR variants showed larger lesions on MRI including the white matter, suggesting compromised neural cell migration.


Child, Humans, Focal Cortical Dysplasia, Epilepsy, TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases, Drug Resistant Epilepsy, GTPase-Activating Proteins, Genotype, Malformations of Cortical Development

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