Nov 19, 2021
Acta Neuropathologica

Malformations of cortical development (MCD) comprise a broad spectrum of structural brain lesions frequently associated with epilepsy. Disease definition and diagnosis remain challenging and are often prone to arbitrary judgment. Molecular classification of histopathological entities may help rationalize the diagnostic process. We present a retrospective, multi center analysis of genome wide DNA methylation from human brain specimens obtained from epilepsy surgery using EPIC 850 K BeadChip arrays. A total of 308 samples were included in the study. In the reference cohort, 239 formalin fixed and paraffin embedded (FFPE) tissue samples were histopathologically classified as MCD, including 12 major subtype pathologies. They were compared to 15 FFPE samples from surgical non MCD cortices and 11 FFPE samples from post mortem non epilepsy controls. We applied three different statistical approaches to decipher the DNA methylation pattern of histopathological MCD entities, id est, pairwise comparison, machine learning, and deep learning algorithms. Our deep learning model, which represented a shallow neuronal network, achieved the highest level of accuracy. A test cohort of 43 independent surgical samples from different epilepsy centers was used to test the precision of our DNA methylation based MCD classifier. All samples from the test cohort were accurately assigned to their disease classes by the algorithm. These data demonstrate DNA methylation based MCD classification suitability across major histopathological entities amenable to epilepsy surgery and age groups and will help establish an integrated diagnostic classification scheme for epilepsy associated MCD.

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