Seizure characteristics and prognostic factors of gliomas


  • Melissa Kerkhof,

    1. Department of Neurology, Medical Center The Hague, The Hague, The Netherlands
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  • Charles J. Vecht

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Neurology, Medical Center The Hague, The Hague, The Netherlands
    2. Service Neurologie Mazarin, CHU Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris, France
    • Address correspondence to Charles J. Vecht, Section of Neuro-Oncology, Department of Neurology, Medical Center The Hague, POB 432, 2501 CK The Hague, The Netherlands. E-mail:

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Epilepsy in neuroepithelial tumors is highly prevalent. Neurogliomas (dysembryoplastic neuroepitheliomas [DNETs] and gangliogliomas) have a seizure incidence of 80–100%, low-grade gliomas of 60–85%, and glioblastoma of 30–60%. With each type, the appearance of seizures is usually the presenting clinical symptom, and with neuroglial tumors often the only clinical sign. Tumor locations in the temporal and insular cortex are associated with a higher risk of developing epilepsy in both neuroglial tumors and low-grade gliomas. Focal seizures with or without alteration of consciousness and/or secondary generalization are common. Focal seizures with altered consciousness are present in 50–70% of neuroglial tumors, and secondarily generalized seizures in 70% of low-grade gliomas. Surgical treatment, particularly gross tumor resection, contributes strongly to seizure freedom, especially in neuroglial tumors. Refractory epilepsy is more common in low-grade gliomas, occurring in 30–35%. Recurrence or worsening of seizures is often associated with tumor recurrence in glioblastomas. Translational studies have revealed a strong prevalence of IDH1 enzyme mutation together with the presence of seizures and long-term survival in low-grade gliomas. Disturbances of glutamate metabolism occur both in low-grade tumors and glioblastomas, and provide insight into mutual cellular pathway abnormalities contributing to both seizure development and tumor growth. Likewise, the recent clinical observations on antitumor activity of the anticonvulsant valproic acid in glioblastoma now provide promising outlooks on single therapies that target both seizures and gliomas.