Malformations of cortical development are a group of rare disorders commonly manifesting with developmental delay, cerebral palsy or seizures. The neurological outcome is extremely variable depending on the type, extent and severity of the malformation and the involved genetic pathways of brain development. Neuroimaging plays an essential role in the diagnosis of these malformations, but several issues regarding malformations of cortical development definitions and classification remain unclear. The purpose of this consensus statement is to provide standardized malformations of cortical development terminology and classification for neuroradiological pattern interpretation. A committee of international experts in paediatric neuroradiology prepared systematic literature reviews and formulated neuroimaging recommendations in collaboration with geneticists, paediatric neurologists and pathologists during consensus meetings in the context of the European Network Neuro-MIG initiative on Brain Malformations (https://www.neuro-mig.org/). Malformations of cortical development neuroimaging features and practical recommendations are provided to aid both expert and non-expert radiologists and neurologists who may encounter patients with malformations of cortical development in their practice, with the aim of improving malformations of cortical development diagnosis and imaging interpretation worldwide.
In this study we compare temporal lobe (TL) signal intensity (SI) profiles, along with the average thicknesses of the transient zones obtained from postmortem MRI (pMRI) scans and corresponding histological slices, to the frontal lobe (FL) SI and zone thicknesses, in normal fetal brains. The purpose was to assess the synchronization of the corticogenetic processes in different brain lobes. Nine postmortem human fetal brains without cerebral pathologies, from 19 to 24 weeks of gestation (GW) were analyzed on T2-weighted 3T pMRI, at the coronal level of the thalamus and basal ganglia. The SI profiles of the transient zones in the TL correlate well spatially and temporally to the signal intensity profile of the FL. During the examined period, in the TL, the intermediate and subventricular zone are about the size of the subplate zone (SP), while the superficial SP demonstrates the highest signal intensity. The correlation of the SI profiles and the distributions of the transient zones in the two brain lobes, indicates a time-aligned histogenesis during this narrow time window. The 3TpMRI enables an assessment of the regularity of lamination patterns in the fetal telencephalic wall, upon comparative evaluation of sizes of the transient developmental zones and the SI profiles of different cortical regions. A knowledge of normal vs. abnormal transient lamination patterns and the SI profiles is a prerequisite for further advancement of the MR diagnostic tools needed for early detection of developmental brain pathologies prenatally, especially mild white matter injuries such as lesions of TL due to prenatal cytomegalovirus infections, or cortical malformations.
Malformations of cortical development (MCD) can frequently be diagnosed at multi-disciplinary Fetal Neurology clinics with the aid of multiplanar neurosonography and MRI. The patients are usually referred following prenatal sonographic screening that raises the suspicion of a possible underlying MCD. These indirect findings include, but are not limited to, ventriculomegaly (lateral ventricles larger than 10 mm), asymmetric ventricles, commissural anomalies, absent cavum septum pellucidum, cerebellar vermian and/or hemispheric anomalies, abnormal head circumference (microcephaly or macrocephaly), multiple CNS malformations, and associated systemic defects. The aim of this paper is to suggest a practical approach to prenatal diagnosis of malformations of cortical development utilizing dedicated neurosonography and MRI, based on the current literature and our own experience. We suggest that an MCD should be suspected in utero when the following intracranial imaging signs are present: abnormal development of the Sylvian fissure; delayed achievement of cortical milestones, premature appearance of sulcation; irregular ventricular borders, abnormal cortical thickness (thick, thin); abnormal shape and orientation of the sulci and gyri; irregular, abnormal, asymmetric, and enlarged hemisphere; simplified cortex; non continuous cortex or cleft; and intraparenchymal echogenic nodules. Following the putative diagnosis of fetal MCD by neurosonography and MRI, when appropriate and possible (depending on gestational age), the imaging diagnosis is supplemented by genetic studies (CMA and trio whole exome sequencing). In some instances, no further studies are required during pregnancy due to the clear dire prognosis and then the genetic evaluation can be deferred after delivery or termination of pregnancy (in countries where allowed).
The clinical presentation of bilateral perisylvian polymicrogyria (PMG) is highly variable, including oromotor dysfunction, epilepsy, intellectual disability, and pyramidal signs. Extrapyramidal features are extremely rare. We present four apparently unrelated patients with a unique association of PMG with dystonia. The clinical, genetic, and radiologic features are described and possible mechanisms of dystonia are discussed. All patients were female and two were born to consanguineous families. All presented with early childhood onset dystonia. Other neurologic symptoms and signs classically seen in bilateral perisylvian PMG were observed, including oromotor dysfunction and speech abnormalities ranging from dysarthria to anarthria (4/4), pyramidal signs (3/4), hypotonia (3/4), postnatal microcephaly (1/4), and seizures (1/4). Neuroimaging showed a unique pattern of bilateral PMG with an infolded cortex originating primarily from the perisylvian region in three out of four patients. Whole exome sequencing was performed in two out of four patients and did not reveal pathogenic variants in known genes for cortical malformations or movement disorders. The dystonia seen in our patients is not described in bilateral PMG and suggests an underlying mechanism of impaired connectivity within the motor network or compromised cortical inhibition. The association of bilateral PMG with dystonia in our patients may represent a new neurogenetic disorder.
Background Congenital mirror movements are involuntary movements of a side of the body imitating intentional movements on the opposite side, appearing in early childhood and persisting beyond 7 years of age. Congenital mirror movements are usually idiopathic but have been reported in association with various brain malformations. Methods We describe clinical, genetic, and radiologic features in 9 individuals from 5 families manifesting congenital mirror movements. Results The brain malformations associated with congenital mirror movements were: dysplastic corpus callosum in father and daughter with a heterozygous p.Met1* mutation in DCC; hypoplastic corpus callosum, dysgyria, and malformed vermis in a mother and son with a heterozygous p.Thr312Met mutation in TUBB3; dysplastic corpus callosum, dysgyria, abnormal vermis, and asymmetric ventricles in a father and 2 daughters with a heterozygous p.Arg121Trp mutation in TUBB; hypoplastic corpus callosum, dysgyria, malformed basal ganglia and abnormal vermis in a patient with a heterozygous p.Glu155Asp mutation in TUBA1A; hydrocephalus, hypoplastic corpus callosum, polymicrogyria, and cerebellar cysts in a patient with a homozygous p.Pro312Leu mutation in POMGNT1. Conclusion DCC, TUBB3, TUBB, TUBA1A, POMGNT1 cause abnormal axonal guidance via different mechanisms and result in congenital mirror movements associated with brain malformations.
Malformations of cortical development (MCDs) are neurodevelopmental disorders that result from abnormal development of the cerebral cortex in utero. MCDs place a substantial burden on affected individuals, their families and societies worldwide, as these individuals can experience lifelong drug-resistant epilepsy, cerebral palsy, feeding difficulties, intellectual disability and other neurological and behavioural anomalies. The diagnostic pathway for MCDs is complex owing to wide variations in presentation and aetiology, thereby hampering timely and adequate management. In this article, the international MCD network Neuro-MIG provides consensus recommendations to aid both expert and non-expert clinicians in the diagnostic work-up of MCDs with the aim of improving patient management worldwide. We reviewed the literature on clinical presentation, aetiology and diagnostic approaches for the main MCD subtypes and collected data on current practices and recommendations from clinicians and diagnostic laboratories within Neuro-MIG. We reached consensus by 42 professionals from 20 countries, using expert discussions and a Delphi consensus process. We present a diagnostic workflow that can be applied to any individual with MCD and a comprehensive list of MCD-related genes with their associated phenotypes. The workflow is designed to maximize the diagnostic yield and increase the number of patients receiving personalized care and counselling on prognosis and recurrence risk.
EML1 encodes the protein Echinoderm microtubule‐associated protein‐like 1 or EMAP‐1 that binds to the microtubule complex. Mutations in this gene resulting in complex brain malformations have only recently been published with limited clinical descriptions. We provide further clinical and imaging details on three previously published families, and describe two novel unrelated individuals with a homozygous partial EML1 deletion and a homozygous missense variant c.760G>A, p.(Val254Met), respectively. From review of the clinical and imaging data of eight individuals from five families with biallelic EML1 variants, a very consistent imaging phenotype emerges. The clinical syndrome is characterized by mainly neurological features including severe developmental delay, drug‐resistant seizures and visual impairment. On brain imaging there is megalencephaly with a characteristic ribbon‐like subcortical heterotopia combined with partial or complete callosal agenesis and an overlying polymicrogyria‐like cortical malformation. Several of its features can be recognized on prenatal imaging especially the abnormaly formed lateral ventricles, hydrocephalus (in half of the cases) and suspicion of a neuronal migration disorder. In conclusion, biallelic EML1 disease‐causing variants cause a highly specific pattern of congenital brain malformations, severe developmental delay, seizures and visual impairment.
In the middle of March 2019, a group of scientists and clinicians (as well as those who wear both hats) gathered in the green campus of the Weizmann Institute of Science to share recent scientific findings, to establish collaborations, and to discuss future directions for better diagnosis, etiology modeling and treatment of brain malformations. One hundred fifty scientists from twenty-two countries took part in this meeting. Thirty-eight talks were presented and as many as twenty-five posters were displayed. This review is aimed at presenting some of the highlights that the audience was exposed to during the three-day meeting.
Sphingomyelinases generate ceramide from sphingomyelin as a second messenger in intracellular signaling pathways involved in cell proliferation, differentiation, or apoptosis. Children from 12 unrelated families presented with microcephaly, simplified gyral pattern of the cortex, hypomyelination, cerebellar hypoplasia, congenital arthrogryposis, and early fetal/postnatal demise. Genomic analysis revealed bi-allelic loss-of-function variants in SMPD4, coding for the neutral sphingomyelinase-3 (nSMase-3/SMPD4). Overexpression of human Myc-tagged SMPD4 showed localization both to the outer nuclear envelope and the ER and additionally revealed interactions with several nuclear pore complex proteins by proteomics analysis. Fibroblasts from affected individuals showed ER cisternae abnormalities, suspected for increased autophagy, and were more susceptible to apoptosis under stress conditions, while treatment with siSMPD4 caused delayed cell cycle progression. Our data show that SMPD4 links homeostasis of membrane sphingolipids to cell fate by regulating the cross-talk between the ER and the outer nuclear envelope, while its loss reveals a pathogenic mechanism in microcephaly.
Background: Focal cortical dysplasia (FCD) may vary in size and be located in any area of the human brain. In general, FCD causes epilepsy and it is usually associated with mental retardation. Even in case of epilepsy various types of treatment are identified, there is no complete educational therapy for developmental delays caused by FCD. Moreover, there are no works that synthetically discuss the possibilities of supporting such therapy by technology-based solutions. Method: Here, we investigate this issue using a systematic literature review. Results: Despite the fact that we were dealing with the lack of studies on technology-based educational therapy for students with cognitive problems due to FCD, we point out several potential benefits of this type of assistance. Discussion and conclusions: Our study clearly demonstrates that technology may strongly enhance educational therapy for developmental delays caused by focal cortical dysplasia and that there is a need for further neuro-edu-techno (NET) studies on this topic.
Background: Focal cortical dysplasia (FCD) may vary in size and be located in any area of the human brain. In general, FCD causes epilepsy and it is usually associated with mental retardation. Even in case of epilepsy various types of treatment are identified, particularly antiepileptic drugs and surgical management, or numerous non-invasive treatments as such as mammalian target of rapamycin inhibitors, ketogenic diet or vagus nerve stimulation, there is no complete educational therapy for developmental delays caused by FCD. Moreover, there are no works that synthetically discuss the possibilities of supporting such therapy by technology-based solutions. Method: Here, we investigate this issue using a systematic literature review. Results: Despite the fact that we were dealing with the lack of studies on technology-based educational therapy for students with cognitive problems due to FCD, we point out several potential benefits of this type of assistance. We also show some examples of the latest IT-tools for educational FCD-therapy. Discussion and conclusions: Our study clearly demonstrates that technology may strongly enhance educational therapy for developmental delays caused by focal cortical dysplasia and that there is a need for further interdisciplinary studies on this topic.
Epilepsy and mental retardation, originally of unknown cause, are now known to result from many defects including cortical malformations, neuronal circuitry disorders and perturbations of neuronal communication and synapse function. Genetic approaches in combination with MRI and related imaging techniques continually allow a re-evaluation and better classification of these disorders. Here we review our current understanding of some of the primary defects involved, with insight from recent molecular biology advances, the study of mouse models and the results of neuropathology analyses. Through these studies the molecular determinants involved in the control of neuron number, neuronal migration, generation of cortical laminations and convolutions, integrity of the basement membrane at the pial surface, and the establishment of neuronal circuitry are being elucidated. We have attempted to integrate these results with the available data concerning, in particular, human brain development, and to emphasize the limitations in some cases of extrapolating from rodent models. Taking such species differences into account is clearly critical for understanding the pathophysiological mechanisms associated with these disorders.