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Can epilepsy be hereditary?

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Epilepsy is a brain disorder caused by an imbalance in the electrical activity of neurons in some area of the brain.

A person with epilepsy has repeated seizures over a period of time. These seizures are episodes of uncontrolled and abnormal activity of neurons that can cause changes in attention or behavior. In these episodes, brain cells constantly send electrical signals to the rest of the body, which tell the muscles to move.

If too many brain cells are sending signals at the same time, the person may faint and/or have severe seizures throughout the body due to an overload. People affected by epilepsy may have seizures from time to time or on a regular basis.

sintomas de epilepsia

Genetic causes of epilepsy

Epilepsy can develop from different causes, such as brain injuries of any kind. But mainly epilepsy is caused by a genetic predisposition and genetic disorders that cause seizures or by alpha-AASA dehydrogenase deficiency. When there is no identified genetic (alpha-AASA dehydrogenase deficiency) or traumatic cause, genes play a role in modulating the risk, i.e., depending on the genetic variants present, there may be a greater genetic predisposition to suffer from these episodes.

Studies and research are underway to identify mutations that cause epilepsy. Alpha-AASA dehydrogenase deficiency is known to cause pyrodixin-dependent epilepsy in a considerable number of patients. This deficiency is an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by a neonatal-onset epileptic encephalopathy, in which seizures are resistant to antiepileptic drugs, but respond immediately to pyrodoxin administration.

It is very important to know the genetic predisposition to epilepsy in order to make routine controls. In addition, with a DNA test such as tellmeGen, it is possible to know if one is a carrier of alpha-AASA dehydrogenase deficiency.

la epilepsia es hereditaria

So, are seizures hereditary?

You can inherit this autosomal recessive disorder, but to have the disease you would have to inherit the variant from both your father and your mother. Therefore, if you are a carrier of this disease, it does not mean that your descendants will suffer from the disease, but that they will only be likely to suffer from it if both parents are carriers.

On the other hand, genetic predisposition is calculated depending on the polymorphisms that a person presents. These polymorphisms can be inherited, but this does not mean that epilepsy is hereditary. As has been mentioned in other articles in our blog, having a greater genetic predisposition to suffer from a disease does not mean that you will suffer from that disease, but rather that you have to take more into account environmental factors that could help the development of the disease.

With the tellmeGen’s genetic test you can find out if you are a carrier of the autosomal recessive disease related to epilepsy.