DNA methyltransferase isoforms expression in the temporal lobe of epilepsy patients with a history of febrile seizures

Laurence de Nijs*, Kyonghwan Choe, Hellen Steinbusch, Olaf E. M. G. Schijns, Jim Dings, Daniel L. A. van den Hove, Bart P. F. Rutten, Govert Hoogland

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background Temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) with hippocampal sclerosis (HS) is a common pharmaco-resistant epilepsy referred for adult epilepsy surgery. Though associated with prolonged febrile seizures (FS) in childhood, the neurobiological basis for this relationship is not fully understood and currently no preventive or curative therapies are available. DNA methylation, an epigenetic mechanism catalyzed by DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs), potentially plays a pivotal role in epileptogenesis associated with FS. In an attempt to start exploring this notion, the present cross-sectional pilot study investigated whether global DNA methylation levels (5-mC and 5-hmC markers) and DNMT isoforms (DNMT1, DNMT3a1, and DNMT3a2) expression would be different in hippocampal and neocortical tissues between controls and TLE patients with or without a history of FS. Results We found that global DNA methylation levels and DNMT3a2 isoform expression were lower in the hippocampus for all TLE groups when compared to control patients, with a more significant decrease amongst the TLE groups with a history of FS. Interestingly, we showed that DNMT3a1 expression was severely diminished in the hippocampus of TLE patients with a history of FS in comparison with control and other TLE groups. In the neocortex, we found a higher expression of DNMT1 and DNMT3a1 as well as increased levels of global DNA methylation for all TLE patients compared to controls. Conclusion Together, the findings of this descriptive cross-sectional pilot study demonstrated brain region-specific changes in DNMT1 and DNMT3a isoform expression as well as global DNA methylation levels in human TLE with or without a history of FS. They highlighted a specific implication of DNMT3a isoforms in TLE after FS. Therefore, longitudinal studies that aim at targeting DNMT3a isoforms to evaluate the potential causal relationship between FS and TLE or treatment of FS-induced epileptogenesis seem warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118
Number of pages14
JournalClinical epigenetics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 Aug 2019


  • Febrile seizures
  • Temporal lobe epilepsy
  • Epigenetics
  • DNA methylation
  • DNA methyltransferases
  • DNMT3A

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