Genetic determinants of common epilepsies: a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies

Richard J. L. Anney*, Andreja Avbersek, David Balding, Larry Baum, Felicitas Becker, Samuel F. Berkovic, Jonathan P. Bradfield, Lawrence C. Brody, Russell J. Buono, Claudia B. Catarino, Gianpiero L. Cavalleri, Stacey S. Cherny, Krishna Chinthapalli, Alison J. Coffey, Alastair Compston, Patrick Cossette, Gerrit-Jan de Haan, Peter De Jonghe, Carolien G F de Kovel, Norman DelantyChantal Depondt, Dennis J. Dlugos, Colin P. Doherty, Christian E. Elger, Thomas N. Ferraro, Martha Feucht, Andre Franke, Jacqueline French, Verena Gaus, David B. Goldstein, Hongsheng Gui, Youling Guo, Hakon Hakonarson, Kerstin Hallmann, Erin L. Heinzen, Ingo Helbig, Helle Hjalgrim, Margaret Jackson, Jennifer Jamnadas-Khoda, Dieter Janz, Michael R. Johnson, Reetta Kaelviaeinen, Anne-Mari Kantanen, Dalia Kasperaviciute, Dorothee Kasteleijn-Nolst Trenite, Bobby P. C. Koeleman, Wolfram S. Kunz, Patrick Kwan, Yu Lung Lau, Dick Lindhout, ,

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background The epilepsies are a clinically heterogeneous group of neurological disorders. Despite strong evidence for heritability, genome-wide association studies have had little success in identification of risk loci associated with epilepsy, probably because of relatively small sample sizes and insufficient power. We aimed to identify risk loci through meta-analyses of genome-wide association studies for all epilepsy and the two largest clinical subtypes (genetic generalised epilepsy and focal epilepsy).

Methods We combined genome-wide association data from 12 cohorts of individuals with epilepsy and controls from population-based datasets. Controls were ethnically matched with cases. We phenotyped individuals with epilepsy into categories of genetic generalised epilepsy, focal epilepsy, or unclassified epilepsy. After standardised filtering for quality control and imputation to account for different genotyping platforms across sites, investigators at each site conducted a linear mixed-model association analysis for each dataset. Combining summary statistics, we conducted fixed-effects meta-analyses of all epilepsy, focal epilepsy, and genetic generalised epilepsy. We set the genome-wide significance threshold at p

Findings We included 8696 cases and 26157 controls in our analysis. Meta-analysis of the all-epilepsy cohort identified loci at 2q24.3 (p=8.71 x 10(-10), implicating SCN1A, and at 4p15.1 (p=5.44 x 10(-9)), harbouring PCDH7, which encodes a protocadherin molecule not previously implicated in epilepsy. For the cohort of genetic generalised epilepsy, we noted a single signal at 2p16.1 (p=9.99 x 10(-9)), implicating VRK2 or FANCL. No single nucleotide polymorphism achieved genome-wide significance for focal epilepsy.

Interpretation This meta-analysis describes a new locus not previously implicated in epilepsy and provides further evidence about the genetic architecture of these disorders, with the ultimate aim of assisting in disease classification and prognosis. The data suggest that specific loci can act pleiotropically raising risk for epilepsy broadly, or can have effects limited to a specific epilepsy subtype. Future genetic analyses might benefit from both lumping (ie, grouping of epilepsy types together) or splitting (ie, analysis of specific clinical subtypes).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)893-903
Number of pages11
JournalLancet Neurology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014


  • RISK
  • SCN1A


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