Genetic analysis of kifafa, a complex familial seizure disorder

R. J. Neuman, J. M. Kwon, L. Jilek-Aall, H. T. Rwiza, J. P. Rice, P. J. Goodfellow

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15 Scopus citations


Kifafa is the Swahili name for an epileptic seizure disorder, first reported in the early 1960s, that is prevalent in the Wapogoro tribe of the Mahenge region of Tanzania in eastern Africa. A 1990 epidemiological survey of seizure disorders in this region reported a prevalence in the range of 19/1,000-36/1,000, with a mean age at onset of 11.6 years; 80% of those affected had onset prior to 20 years of age. A team of investigators returned to Tanzania in 1992 and collected data on >1,600 relatives of 26 probands in 20 kifafa families. We have undertaken a genetic analysis of these data in order to detect the presence of familial clustering and whether such aggregation could be attributed to genetic factors. Of the 127 affected individuals in these pedigrees, 23 are first-degree relatives (parent, full sibling, or offspring) of the 26 probands; 20 are second-degree relatives (half-sibling, grandparent, uncle, or aunt). When corrected for age, the risk to first-degree relatives is .15; the risk to second-degree relatives is .063. These risks are significantly higher than would be expected if there were no familial clustering. Segregation analysis, using PAP (rev.4.0), was undertaken to clarify the mode of inheritance. Among the Mendelian single- locus models, an additive modal was favored over either a dominant, recessive, or codominant model. The single-locus model could be rejected when compared with the mixed Mendelian model (inclusion of a polygenic background), although the major-gene component tends to be recessive. However, the hypothesis of Mendelian transmission could be rejected, suggesting that, although kifafa does aggregate in these families, the mode of inheritance is genetically complex.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)902-910
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican journal of human genetics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1995


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