• Myoclonic absences;
  • Chromosome disorders;
  • Trisomy 12p;
  • inv dup (15);
  • Angelman syndrome

Summary: Purpose: We explored the relationship between myoclonic absence seizures (MAS) and underlying chromosome disorders.

Methods: Among 14 patients with MAS observed in three centers, 5 had typical cryptogenic myoclonic absence epilepsy (MAE), 2 had MAS associated with other seizure types (1 with signs of a neuronal migration abnormality and 1 with signs of a metabolic disorder), and 7 had MAS, with or without other seizure types, complicating a chromosome abnormality syndrome-2 with trisomy 12p, 4 with Angelman syndrome, and 1 with inv dup (15).

Results: In the 7 patients with chromosomopathy, MAS appeared at a mean age of 2.9 years (range 4 months to 6 years 6 months), had a duration of 4–20 s, and were accompanied by reduced awareness and rhythmic myoclonic jerks involving proximal limb muscles. Ictal EEG showed 2- to 3-Hz generalized spike-and-wave discharges.

Conclusions: In these patients, MAS differed slightly from those of typical MAE: age of onset was earlier, absences were of shorter duration, and no clear increase in muscular tone was noted. Abnormal expression of genes codifying for the subfamily of K+ channels and for γ-aminobutyric acid-3 subunit receptors (GABRBS), both located in the chromosome segments involved in the chromosomopathies presented by our patients, could be responsible for the same generalized seizure type. Chromosome analysis should be performed in patients with mental retardation and MAS, especially when the ictal pattern does not completely overlap that observed in MAE.