Publications by authors named "An-Sofie Schoonjans"

26 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Genotype-phenotype correlations in SCN8A-related disorders reveal prognostic and therapeutic implications.

Brain 2021 Aug 25. Epub 2021 Aug 25.

National Centre for Rare Epilepsy-Related Disorders, Oslo University Hospital, 0001 Oslo, Norway.

We report detailed functional analyses and genotype-phenotype correlations in 392 individuals carrying disease-causing variants in SCN8A, encoding the voltage-gated Na+ channel NaV1.6, with the aim of describing clinical phenotypes related to functional effects. Six different clinical subgroups could be identified: 1) Benign familial infantile epilepsy (BFIE) (n = 15, normal cognition, treatable seizures), 2) intermediate epilepsy (n = 33, mild ID, partially pharmaco-responsive), 3) developmental and epileptic encephalopathy (DEE, n = 177, severe ID, majority pharmaco-resistant), 4) generalized epilepsy (n = 20, mild to moderate ID, frequently with absence seizures), 5) unclassifiable epilepsy (n = 127), and 6) neurodevelopmental disorder without epilepsy (n = 20, mild to moderate ID). Groups 1-3 presented with focal or multifocal seizures (median age of onset: four months) and focal epileptiform discharges, whereas the onset of seizures in group 4 was later (median: 42 months) with generalized epileptiform discharges. We performed functional studies expressing missense variants in ND7/23 neuroblastoma cells and primary neuronal cultures using recombinant tetrodotoxin-insensitive human NaV1.6 channels and whole-cell patch-clamping. Two variants causing DEE showed a strong gain-of-function (GOF, hyperpolarising shift of steady-state activation, strongly increased neuronal firing rate), and one variant causing BFIE or intermediate epilepsy showed a mild GOF (defective fast inactivation, less increased firing). In contrast, all three variants causing generalized epilepsy induced a loss-of-function (LOF, reduced current amplitudes, depolarising shift of steady-state activation, reduced neuronal firing). Including previous studies, functional effects were known for 170 individuals. All 136 individuals carrying a functionally tested GOF variant had either focal (97, groups 1-3), or unclassifiable epilepsy (39), whereas 34 with a LOF variant had either generalized (14), no (11) or unclassifiable (6) epilepsy; only three had DEE. Computational modeling in the GOF group revealed a significant correlation between the severity of the electrophysiological and clinical phenotypes. GOF variant carriers responded significantly better to sodium channel blockers (SCBs) than to other anti-seizure medications, and the same applied for all individuals of groups 1-3. In conclusion, our data reveal clear genotype-phenotype correlations between age at seizure onset, type of epilepsy and gain- or loss-of-function effects of SCN8A variants. Generalized epilepsy with absence seizures is the main epilepsy phenotype of LOF variant carriers and the extent of the electrophysiological dysfunction of the GOF variants is a main determinant of the severity of the clinical phenotype in focal epilepsies. Our pharmacological data indicate that SCBs present a treatment option in SCN8A-related focal epilepsy with onset in the first year of life.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awab321DOI Listing
August 2021

KCNT1-related epilepsies and epileptic encephalopathies: phenotypic and mutational spectrum.

Brain 2021 Jun 11. Epub 2021 Jun 11.

Pediatric Neurology Department, Lyon University Hospital, 69500 Bron, France.

Variants in KCNT1, encoding a sodium-gated potassium channel (subfamily T member 1), have been associated with a spectrum of epilepsies and neurodevelopmental disorders. These range from familial autosomal dominant or sporadic sleep-related hypermotor epilepsy ((AD)SHE) to epilepsy of infancy with migrating focal seizures (EIMFS) and include developmental and epileptic encephalopathies (DEE). This study aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the phenotypic and genotypic spectrum of KCNT1 mutation-related epileptic disorders in 248 individuals, including 66 unpreviously published and 182 published cases, the largest cohort reported so far. Four phenotypic groups emerged from our analysis: i) EIMFS (152 individuals, 33 previously unpublished); ii) DEE other than EIMFS (non-EIMFS DEE) (37 individuals, 17 unpublished); iii) (AD)SHE (53 patients, 14 unpublished); iv) other phenotypes (6 individuals, 2 unpublished). In our cohort of 66 new cases, the most common phenotypic features were: a) in EIMFS, heterogeneity of seizure types, including epileptic spasms, epilepsy improvement over time, no epilepsy-related deaths; b) in non-EIMFS DEE, possible onset with West syndrome, occurrence of atypical absences, possible evolution to DEE with SHE features; one case of sudden unexplained death in epilepsy (SUDEP); c) in (AD)SHE, we observed a high prevalence of drug-resistance, although seizure frequency improved with age in some individuals, appearance of cognitive regression after seizure onset in all patients, no reported severe psychiatric disorders, although behavioural/psychiatric comorbidities were reported in about 50% of the patients, SUDEP in one individual; d) other phenotypes in individuals with mutation of KCNT1 included temporal lobe epilepsy, and epilepsy with tonic-clonic seizures and cognitive regression. Genotypic analysis of the whole cohort of 248 individuals showed only missense mutations and one inframe deletion in KCNT1. Although the KCNT1 mutations in affected individuals were seen to be distributed among the different domains of the KCNT1 protein, genotype-phenotype considerations showed many of the (AD)SHE-associated mutations to be clustered around the RCK2 domain in the C-terminus, distal to the NADP domain. Mutations associated with EIMFS/non-EIMFS DEE did not show a particular pattern of distribution in the KCNT1 protein. Recurrent KCNT1 mutations were seen to be associated with both severe and less severe phenotypes. Our study further defines and broadens the phenotypic and genotypic spectrums of KCNT1-related epileptic conditions and emphasizes the increasingly important role of this gene in the pathogenesis of early onset DEEs as well as in focal epilepsies, namely (AD)SHE.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awab219DOI Listing
June 2021

A critical evaluation of fenfluramine hydrochloride for the treatment of Dravet syndrome.

Expert Rev Neurother 2021 Feb 26:1-14. Epub 2021 Feb 26.

Department of Pediatrics and Pediatric Neurology, Antwerp University Hospital, Edegem, Belgium.

: Dravet Syndrome (DS) is a severe developmental and epileptic encephalopathy. Fenfluramine recently demonstrated to be a highly efficacious and safe treatment option for DS patients. Fenfluramine has been recently approved by the FDA and EMA and is marketed as Fintepla®.: DS and the need for additional anticonvulsive treatment options is discussed. The results of three placebo-controlled phase III studies (1 with and 2 without stiripentol) and 2 open label (extension) studies are reviewed. All studies demonstrate a consistent and impressive seizure reduction, confirming the results of two smaller investigator-initiated trials. The mechanism of action of fenfluramine is discussed. Finally, the place of fenfluramine in the future treatment of DS is outlined.: Fenfluramine has a potent anticonvulsive effect in DS. Although not yet fully elucidated, the anticonvulsive mechanism of fenfluramine seems to be mainly serotonergic. Fenfluramine is generally well tolerated. A dose reduction is necessary in combination with stiripentol. Considering new competitors, efficacy seems lower for cannabidiol and is comparable with stiripentol. Preclinical studies indicate a disease specific action and possible disease modification in DS. The latter would support the use of fenfluramine above its anticonvulsive effect and needs to be further elaborated.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14737175.2021.1877540DOI Listing
February 2021

The mechanics behind gait problems in patients with Dravet Syndrome.

Gait Posture 2021 02 31;84:321-328. Epub 2020 Dec 31.

Research Group MOVANT, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences and Physiotherapy (REVAKI), University of Antwerp, Wilrijk, Belgium; Multidisciplinary Motor Centre Antwerp (M2OCEAN), University of Antwerp, Belgium. Electronic address:

Background: Dravet Syndrome (DS) is a developmental and epileptic encephalopathy starting in infancy and characterised by treatment resistant epilepsy with cognitive impairment and progressive motor dysfunction. Walking becomes markedly impaired with age, but the mechanical nature of gait problems remains unclear.

Research Question: What are the kinetic strategies characterised in gait of patients with DS?

Methods: This case-control study compared 41 patients with DS aged 5.2-26.1 years (19 female, 22 male) to 41 typically developing (TD) peers. Three dimensional gait analysis (VICON) was performed to obtain spatiotemporal parameters, kinematics and kinetics during barefoot, level walking at self-selected walking velocity. The sagittal plane support moment was analysed using Statistical Parametric Mapping (SPM). Three DS subgroups were identified based on differences in kinetic strategies characterised by the net internal knee joint moments and trunk lean. Kinematic and kinetic time profiles of the subgroups were compared to the TD group (SPM t-test). Clinical characteristics from physical examination and parental anamnesis were compared between DS (sub)groups using non-parametric tests (Kruskal-Wallis, Wilcoxon rank-sum, Fisher's exact).

Results: Support moments in stance were significantly increased in the DS group compared to TD and strongly related to minimum knee flexion in midstance. Persistent internal knee extension moments during stance were detected in a subgroup of 27 % of the patients. A second subgroup of 34 % showed forward trunk lean and attained internal knee flexion moments. The remaining 39 % had neutral or backward trunk lean with internal knee flexion moments. Subgroups differed significantly in age and functional mobility.

Significance: Inefficient kinetic patterns suggested that increased muscle effort was needed to control lower limb stability. Three distinct kinetic strategies that underly kinematic deviations were identified. Clinical evaluation of gait should pay attention to knee angles, trunk lean and support moments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gaitpost.2020.12.029DOI Listing
February 2021

Independent walking and cognitive development in preschool children with Dravet syndrome.

Dev Med Child Neurol 2021 04 23;63(4):472-479. Epub 2020 Nov 23.

Movant, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences & Physiotherapy, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium.

Aim: To investigate the relation between cognitive and motor development in preschool aged children with Dravet syndrome, in particular between the age of independent walking and cognitive development.

Method: Results of cognitive and motor developmental assessments and the age of independent walking were retrieved retrospectively from the medical records of 33 children (17 males, 16 females; mean age at last evaluation 33.2mo, SD 8.2mo, range 9-48mo) diagnosed with Dravet syndrome. Cognitive and motor developmental age, derived from the Bayley Scales of Infant Development or through standardized neurodevelopmental assessment, were converted into cognitive and motor developmental quotients. Multiple test scores per child were included.

Results: A strong positive relation was found between cognitive and motor developmental quotient (Pearson r=0.854; p<0.001) in 20 children (slope=0.75; 95% CI: 0.54-0.95). A later age of independent walking was associated with a lower cognitive developmental quotient (28 children; p<0.001; slope=-1.01; 95% CI: -1.53 to -0.49). A higher cognitive developmental quotient was seen in children with an age at testing younger than 24 months. The cognitive developmental quotient of children with a delay in independent walking (>17.6mo) was significantly lower than those without a delay (p=0.006).

Interpretation: A strong relation exists between cognitive and motor development. Furthermore, the age of independent walking might be an important indicator of the development of children with Dravet syndrome.

What This Paper Adds: Cognitive and motor development are strongly related in children with Dravet syndrome. Later age of independent walking is associated with worse cognitive development in children with Dravet syndrome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/dmcn.14738DOI Listing
April 2021

Gait abnormalities in people with Dravet syndrome: A cross-sectional multi-center study.

Eur J Paediatr Neurol 2019 Nov 21;23(6):808-818. Epub 2019 Sep 21.

Laboratory of Clinical Analysis and Biomechanics of Movement, University Hospital of Padova, Padova, Italy; NEUROMOVE-Rehab, Department of Neuroscience, University of Padova, Padova, Italy; PNC, Padova Neuroscience Center, Padova, Italy.

Objective: To quantify gait abnormalities in people with Dravet syndrome (DS).

Methods: Individuals with a confirmed diagnosis of DS were enrolled, and stratified according to knee flexion at initial contact (IC) and range of motion (ROM) during stance (atypical crouch: knee flexion >20° at IC and knee ROM >15° during stance; straight: knee flexion <20° at IC). A 1D ANOVA (α = 0.05) was used to test statistical differences among the joint kinematics and spatio-temporal parameters of the cohort and an age-matched control group. Clinical (neurological and orthopaedic evaluation) and anamnestic data (seizure type, drugs, genetic mutation) were collected; distribution between the two gait phenotypes was assessed with the Fisher exact test and, for mutation, with the chi-squared test (p < 0.05). Linear regression between maximum knee flexion and normalised walking speed was calculated.

Results: Seventy-one subjects were enrolled and evaluated with instrumented gait analysis. Fifty-two were included in final analysis (mean age 13.8 ± 7.3; M 26). Two gait patterns were detected: an atypical crouch gait (34.6%) with increased ankle, knee and hip flexion during stance, and reduced walking speed and stride length not associated with muscle-tendon retractions; and a pattern resembling those of healthy age-matched controls, but still showing reduced walking speed and stride length. No differences in clinical or anamnestic data emerged between the two groups.

Significance: Objectively quantified gait in DS shows two gait patterns with no clear-cut relation to clinical data. Kinematics abnormalities may be related to stabilization issues. These findings may guide rehabilitative and preventive measures.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejpn.2019.09.010DOI Listing
November 2019

Heterogeneous clinical and functional features of GRIN2D-related developmental and epileptic encephalopathy.

Brain 2019 10;142(10):3009-3027

Department of Pediatrics and Pediatric Epilepsy Center, Peking University First Hospital, Beijing, China.

N-methyl d-aspartate receptors are ligand-gated ionotropic receptors mediating a slow, calcium-permeable component of excitatory synaptic transmission in the CNS. Variants in genes encoding NMDAR subunits have been associated with a spectrum of neurodevelopmental disorders. Here we report six novel GRIN2D variants and one previously-described disease-associated GRIN2D variant in two patients with developmental and epileptic encephalopathy. GRIN2D encodes for the GluN2D subunit protein; the GluN2D amino acids affected by the variants in this report are located in the pre-M1 helix, transmembrane domain M3, and the intracellular carboxyl terminal domain. Functional analysis in vitro reveals that all six variants decreased receptor surface expression, which may underline some shared clinical symptoms. In addition the GluN2D(Leu670Phe), (Ala675Thr) and (Ala678Asp) substitutions confer significantly enhanced agonist potency, and/or increased channel open probability, while the GluN2D(Ser573Phe), (Ser1271Phe) and (Arg1313Trp) substitutions result in a mild increase of agonist potency, reduced sensitivity to endogenous protons, and decreased channel open probability. The GluN2D(Ser573Phe), (Ala675Thr), and (Ala678Asp) substitutions significantly decrease current amplitude, consistent with reduced surface expression. The GluN2D(Leu670Phe) variant slows current response deactivation time course and increased charge transfer. GluN2D(Ala678Asp) transfection significantly decreased cell viability of rat cultured cortical neurons. In addition, we evaluated a set of FDA-approved NMDAR channel blockers to rescue functional changes of mutant receptors. This work suggests the complexity of the pathological mechanisms of GRIN2D-mediated developmental and epileptic encephalopathy, as well as the potential benefit of precision medicine.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awz232DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6763743PMC
October 2019

An Old Drug for a New Indication: Repurposing Fenfluramine From an Anorexigen to an Antiepileptic Drug.

Clin Pharmacol Ther 2019 11 22;106(5):929-932. Epub 2019 May 22.

Division of Paediatric Neurology, Antwerp University Hospital, University of Antwerp, Edegem, Belgium.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cpt.1469DOI Listing
November 2019

Treatment Responsiveness in KCNT1-Related Epilepsy.

Neurotherapeutics 2019 07;16(3):848-857

Division of Child Neurology, Department of Neurology, University of Rochester School of Medicine, Rochester, NY, USA.

Pathogenic variants in KCNT1 represent an important cause of treatment-resistant epilepsy, for which an effective therapy has been elusive. Reports about the effectiveness of quinidine, a candidate precision therapy, have been mixed. We sought to evaluate the treatment responsiveness of patients with KCNT1-related epilepsy. We performed an observational study of 43 patients using a collaborative KCNT1 patient registry. We assessed treatment efficacy based upon clinical seizure reduction, side effects of quinidine therapy, and variant-specific responsiveness to treatment. Quinidine treatment resulted in a > 50% seizure reduction in 20% of patients, with rare patients achieving transient seizure freedom. Multiple other therapies demonstrated some success in reducing seizure frequency, including the ketogenic diet and vigabatrin, the latter particularly in patients with epileptic spasms. Patients with the best quinidine response had variants that clustered distal to the NADP domain within the RCK2 domain of the protein. Half of patients did not receive a quinidine trial. In those who did, nearly half did not achieve therapeutic blood levels. More favorable response to quinidine in patients with KCNT1 variants distal to the NADP domain within the RCK2 domain may suggest a variant-specific response.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13311-019-00739-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6694367PMC
July 2019

Gait deviations in patients with dravet syndrome: A systematic review.

Eur J Paediatr Neurol 2019 May 22;23(3):357-367. Epub 2019 Mar 22.

Department of Rehabilitation Sciences and Physiotherapy - Movant, University of Antwerp, Universiteitsplein 1, 2610, Wilrijk, Belgium. Electronic address:

Background: Dravet Syndrome is a rare developmental and epileptic encephalopathy characterised by epileptic seizures, cognitive impairment and motor disorders. Gait is markedly impaired and could benefit from targeted intervention to improve quality of life for patient and caregivers.

Objective: To establish the state of the art regarding gait deviations in patients with Dravet Syndrome.

Methods: A systematic search was performed in Pubmed, Web of Science, Science Direct and Embase. Studies that assessed gait deviations in patients diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome using clinical observation, video gait analysis or three dimensional (3D) gait analysis and reported gait characteristics, spatiotemporal or kinematic outcomes were included. Screening, quality assessment and data extraction were performed by independent reviewers.

Results: Out of a total of 478 citations, nine articles were included. The total study population had an age range from 2.5 to 47 years. Three studies used clinical observation, three studies video analysis and three studies 3D gait analysis. Crouch gait was observed in about half of the population next to a variety of other gait deviations such as parkinsonian and cerebellar gait. Other findings included abnormalities in spatiotemporal parameters and kinematics, passive knee extension deficits, skeletal malalignment and neurological signs.

Conclusions: A variety of gait characteristics was observed with crouch gait being the most reported gait pattern. Inconsistency in methods and findings from clinical and instrumented evaluation impede thorough understanding of the causal mechanism and evolution behind these deviations.

Prospero Registration Number: CRD42017070370.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejpn.2019.03.003DOI Listing
May 2019

Diagnostic implications of genetic copy number variation in epilepsy plus.

Epilepsia 2019 04 13;60(4):689-706. Epub 2019 Mar 13.

Center for Human Genetics, University Hospitals Leuven, Herestraat 49, 3000, Leuven, Belgium.

Objective: Copy number variations (CNVs) represent a significant genetic risk for several neurodevelopmental disorders including epilepsy. As knowledge increases, reanalysis of existing data is essential. Reliable estimates of the contribution of CNVs to epilepsies from sizeable populations are not available.

Methods: We assembled a cohort of 1255 patients with preexisting array comparative genomic hybridization or single nucleotide polymorphism array based CNV data. All patients had "epilepsy plus," defined as epilepsy with comorbid features, including intellectual disability, psychiatric symptoms, and other neurological and nonneurological features. CNV classification was conducted using a systematic filtering workflow adapted to epilepsy.

Results: Of 1097 patients remaining after genetic data quality control, 120 individuals (10.9%) carried at least one autosomal CNV classified as pathogenic; 19 individuals (1.7%) carried at least one autosomal CNV classified as possibly pathogenic. Eleven patients (1%) carried more than one (possibly) pathogenic CNV. We identified CNVs covering recently reported (HNRNPU) or emerging (RORB) epilepsy genes, and further delineated the phenotype associated with mutations of these genes. Additional novel epilepsy candidate genes emerge from our study. Comparing phenotypic features of pathogenic CNV carriers to those of noncarriers of pathogenic CNVs, we show that patients with nonneurological comorbidities, especially dysmorphism, were more likely to carry pathogenic CNVs (odds ratio = 4.09, confidence interval = 2.51-6.68; P = 2.34 × 10 ). Meta-analysis including data from published control groups showed that the presence or absence of epilepsy did not affect the detected frequency of CNVs.

Significance: The use of a specifically adapted workflow enabled identification of pathogenic autosomal CNVs in 10.9% of patients with epilepsy plus, which rose to 12.7% when we also considered possibly pathogenic CNVs. Our data indicate that epilepsy with comorbid features should be considered an indication for patients to be selected for a diagnostic algorithm including CNV detection. Collaborative large-scale CNV reanalysis leads to novel declaration of pathogenicity in unexplained cases and can promote discovery of promising candidate epilepsy genes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/epi.14683DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6488157PMC
April 2019

Motor development in children with Dravet syndrome.

Dev Med Child Neurol 2019 08 15;61(8):950-956. Epub 2019 Jan 15.

Department of Rehabilitation Sciences and Physiotherapy, Faculty of Medicine and Health Science, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium.

Aim: The aim of this study is to describe the course of motor development in children with Dravet syndrome.

Method: Forty-three participants (21 males, 22 females; mean age at last assessment 53.89mo±42.50mo) met the inclusion criteria of having a confirmed diagnosis of Dravet syndrome and presence of data on motor development. All data between 1985 and 2018 were derived retrospectively from their medical records. Gross motor milestones and motor age equivalents were used to describe motor development. Standardized neurodevelopmental assessment and the Bayley Scales of Infant Development defined the overall motor development. Peabody Developmental Motor Scales, Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency, and the Beery-Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual-Motor Integration were used to describe development in specific motor domains.

Results: Children with Dravet syndrome showed a delay in both sitting (seven out of 14) and walking independently (11 out of 25). Overall motor age equivalents revealed a delay in 29 out of 38 assessments (age 9-115mo). All assessments of children older than 2 years (16 out of 16) showed a delay. Gross motor delay was present in seven out of seven and fine motor delay in 10 out of 13 assessments (age 19-167mo).

Interpretation: Motor development is delayed in the majority of children with Dravet syndrome older than 2 years and increases with age.

What This Paper Adds: A delay in motor development is present in most children with Dravet syndrome older than 2 years. Large diversity in early gross motor milestones confirms heterogeneity in Dravet syndrome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/dmcn.14147DOI Listing
August 2019

Clinical implementation of gene panel testing for lysosomal storage diseases.

Mol Genet Genomic Med 2019 02 11;7(2):e00527. Epub 2018 Dec 11.

Paediatric Neurology Unit, Department of Paediatrics, UZ Brussel, Brussels, Belgium.

Background: The diagnostic workup in patients with a clinical suspicion of lysosomal storage diseases (LSD) is often difficult due to the variability in the clinical phenotype. The gold standard for diagnosis of LSDs consists of enzymatic testing. However, due to the sequential nature of this methodology and inconsistent genotype-phenotype correlations of certain LSDs, finding a diagnosis can be challenging.

Method: We developed and clinically implemented a gene panel covering 50 genes known to cause LSDs when mutated. Over a period of 18 months, we analyzed 150 patients who were referred for LSD testing and compared these results with the data of patients who were previously enrolled in a scheme of classical biochemical testing.

Results: Our panel was able to determine the molecular cause of the disease in 22 cases (15%), representing an increase in diagnostic yield compared to biochemical tests developed for 21 LSDs (4.6%). We were furthermore able to redirect the diagnosis of a mucolipidosis patient who was initially suspected to be affected with galactosialidosis. Several patients were identified as being affected with neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis, which cannot readily be detected by enzyme testing. Finally, several carriers of pathogenic mutations in LSD genes related to the disease phenotype were identified as well, thus potentially increasing the diagnostic yield of the panel as heterozygous deletions cannot be detected.

Conclusion: We show that the implementation of a gene panel for LSD diagnostics results in an increased yield in comparison to classical biochemical testing. As the panel is able to cover a wider range of diseases, we propose to implement this methodology as a first-tier test in cases of an aspecific LSD presentation, while enzymatic testing remains the first choice in patients with a more distinctive clinical presentation. Positive panel results should however still be enzymatically confirmed whenever possible.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mgg3.527DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6393649PMC
February 2019

More daytime sleepiness and worse quality of sleep in patients with Dravet Syndrome compared to other epilepsy patients.

Eur J Paediatr Neurol 2019 Jan 27;23(1):61-69. Epub 2018 Sep 27.

Department of Pediatric Neurology, Antwerp University Hospital, University of Antwerp, Belgium.

Aim: Sleep problems are often reported in patients with a Dravet Syndrome (DS). In this study we explored the sleep behavior in DS and compared the prevalence of sleep problems with other epilepsy patients.

Methods: An online questionnaire based on the 'Sleep Behavior Questionnaire by Simonds & Parraga (SQ-SP)' was distributed amongst DS parents and a control group (parents from children with epilepsy). Completed questionnaires were evaluated by factor scores and Composite Sleep Index (CSI).

Results: Fifty-six responses were recorded in the DS group (42 were ≤18 year). Caregivers reported an overall frequency of sleep problems in 42.3% (22/52). Severe sleep problems, measured by CSI, were found in 28.3% (13/46) mainly related to night waking or daytime sleepiness. In the control group (n = 66, 62 were ≤18 year), sleep problems were reported by 21.2% (14/52) of the parents. Comparison analysis between pediatric DS and epilepsy patients revealed no significant differences between the prevalence of different types of sleep disorders, except for daytime sleepiness (p = 0.042). However, the parent (or caregiver)-reported quality of sleep was significantly lower in the DS group (p = 0.011).

Interpretation: Sleep problems are frequent in DS patients and are mainly related to daytime sleepiness and night waking. Compared with other epilepsy patients, severe sleep problems are not more common in patients with a DS. However DS patients tend to have more mild night waking problems, which may explain the worse parental-reported sleep quality in DS patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejpn.2018.09.012DOI Listing
January 2019

A pilot, open-label study of the effectiveness and tolerability of low-dose ZX008 (fenfluramine HCl) in Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

Epilepsia 2018 10 26;59(10):1881-1888. Epub 2018 Aug 26.

Division of Pediatric Neurology, Antwerp University Hospital, University of Antwerp, Edegem, Belgium.

Objective: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) is a drug-resistant, childhood onset electroclinical epilepsy syndrome with multiple seizure types and diagnostic electroencephalogram findings. ZX008 (fenfluramine HCl oral solution) was well tolerated and reduced seizure frequency in Dravet syndrome, prompting this phase 2, open-label, dose-finding study of add-on ZX008 in patients with LGS (NCT02655198).

Methods: Eligible treatment-refractory patients with LGS aged 3-18 years with ≥4 documented convulsive seizures (CS) in the prior 4 weeks were administered adjunctive ZX008 twice daily at an initial dose of 0.2 mg/kg/d, with incremental dose escalations up to 0.8 mg/kg/d or 30 mg/d (maximum dose) every 4 weeks in nonresponders (<50% reduction in CS frequency). After 20 weeks (core study), responders were offered entry into a long-term extension study. Seizures were captured via diary. Cardiac safety was monitored by Doppler echocardiography and electrocardiogram.

Results: Thirteen patients were enrolled (mean age = 11.7 years, range = 3-17). Ten (77%) patients completed 20 weeks of ZX008 treatment. During the core study, there was a 53% median reduction (N = 13) in CS; median reduction was 60% in the 10 completers. Eight patients (62%) had a ≥50% CS reduction; three (23%) patients had a ≥75% reduction. Nine (69%) patients entered the long-term extension study. At 15 months (n = 9), median reduction in CS was 58%; six (67%) patients had a ≥50% reduction, and three (33%) patients had a ≥75% reduction. The most common adverse events were decreased appetite (n = 4, 31%) and decreased alertness (n = 2, 15%). No echocardiographic signs of cardiac valvulopathy or pulmonary hypertension were observed.

Significance: ZX008 provided clinically meaningful reduction (≥50%) in CS frequency in the majority of patients with LGS in this pilot study and was generally well tolerated. A phase 3, randomized, controlled study is ongoing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/epi.14540DOI Listing
October 2018

The landscape of epilepsy-related GATOR1 variants.

Genet Med 2019 02 10;21(2):398-408. Epub 2018 Aug 10.

Stichting Epilepsie Instellingen Nederland, Zwolle/Heemstede, The Netherlands.

Purpose: To define the phenotypic and mutational spectrum of epilepsies related to DEPDC5, NPRL2 and NPRL3 genes encoding the GATOR1 complex, a negative regulator of the mTORC1 pathway METHODS: We analyzed clinical and genetic data of 73 novel probands (familial and sporadic) with epilepsy-related variants in GATOR1-encoding genes and proposed new guidelines for clinical interpretation of GATOR1 variants.

Results: The GATOR1 seizure phenotype consisted mostly in focal seizures (e.g., hypermotor or frontal lobe seizures in 50%), with a mean age at onset of 4.4 years, often sleep-related and drug-resistant (54%), and associated with focal cortical dysplasia (20%). Infantile spasms were reported in 10% of the probands. Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) occurred in 10% of the families. Novel classification framework of all 140 epilepsy-related GATOR1 variants (including the variants of this study) revealed that 68% are loss-of-function pathogenic, 14% are likely pathogenic, 15% are variants of uncertain significance and 3% are likely benign.

Conclusion: Our data emphasize the increasingly important role of GATOR1 genes in the pathogenesis of focal epilepsies (>180 probands to date). The GATOR1 phenotypic spectrum ranges from sporadic early-onset epilepsies with cognitive impairment comorbidities to familial focal epilepsies, and SUDEP.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41436-018-0060-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6292495PMC
February 2019

-related intellectual disability syndrome: a recognisable entity.

J Med Genet 2017 09 22;54(9):613-623. Epub 2017 Jul 22.

Laboratory of Medical Genetics, Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital, IRCCS, Rome, Italy.

Background: Mutations in forkhead box protein P1 () cause intellectual disability (ID) and specific language impairment (SLI), with or without autistic features (MIM: 613670). Despite multiple case reports no specific phenotype emerged so far.

Methods: We correlate clinical and molecular data of 25 novel and 23 previously reported patients with defects. We evaluated FOXP1 activity by an in vitro luciferase model and assessed protein stability in vitro by western blotting.

Results: Patients show ID, SLI, neuromotor delay (NMD) and recurrent facial features including a high broad forehead, bent downslanting palpebral fissures, ptosis and/or blepharophimosis and a bulbous nasal tip. Behavioural problems and autistic features are common. Brain, cardiac and urogenital malformations can be associated. More severe ID and NMD, sensorineural hearing loss and feeding difficulties are more common in patients with interstitial 3p deletions (14 patients) versus patients with monogenic defects (34 patients). Mutations result in impaired transcriptional repression and/or reduced protein stability.

Conclusions: -related ID syndrome is a recognisable entity with a wide clinical spectrum and frequent systemic involvement. Our data will be helpful to evaluate genotype-phenotype correlations when interpreting next-generation sequencing data obtained in patients with ID and/or SLI and will guide clinical management.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jmedgenet-2017-104579DOI Listing
September 2017

Cardiovascular safety of low-dose fenfluramine in Dravet syndrome: a review of its benefit-risk profile in a new patient population.

Curr Med Res Opin 2017 10 31;33(10):1773-1781. Epub 2017 Jul 31.

a Department of Paediatric Neurology , Antwerp University Hospital, University of Antwerp , Antwerp , Belgium.

Objective: Dravet syndrome (DS) is a rare, treatment-resistant epilepsy syndrome for which current treatment regimens are often ineffective. Fenfluramine is currently in development for treatment of DS, based on reports in the 1980s and 1990s of its anti-epileptic activity in pediatric patients with intractable epilepsy. However, fenfluramine was withdrawn from global markets in 1997 following reports of its association with pulmonary hypertension and heart valve disease in adult patients treated for obesity. This review was conducted to assess cardiac safety of fenfluramine when used at lower doses for treatment of DS.

Methods: Pubmed was searched for clinical studies of fenfluramine in obese adults who reported incidence of heart valve disease. These data were reviewed against published results from Belgian patients with DS who have been treated with low-dose fenfluramine for up to 28 years.

Results: Nine controlled studies of fenfluramine and related compounds (dexfenfluramine and/or phentermine) which assessed incidence and severity of cardiac valve disease in 3,268 treated patients and 2,017 control subjects have been reported. Mild or greater aortic valve regurgitation was found in 9.6% of treated patients compared with 3.9% of control subjects, and moderate or greater mitral valve regurgitation was found in 3.1% of treated patients and 2.5% of control subjects. Nineteen DS patients have been treated for up to 28 years with 10-20 mg/day fenfluramine, with no clinical signs or symptoms of cardiac valve disease or pulmonary hypertension. Slight and clinically unimportant changes in valve structure have been seen on echocardiography in five patients at some time during the observation period.

Conclusions: A different benefit-risk relationship appears to be emerging when fenfluramine is used at low doses for extended periods in young patients with DS. Continued cardiac assessments during ongoing Phase 3 clinical trials will provide additional safety information for this potential new and effective treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03007995.2017.1355781DOI Listing
October 2017

Five-year extended follow-up status of 10 patients with Dravet syndrome treated with fenfluramine.

Epilepsia 2016 07 20;57(7):e129-34. Epub 2016 May 20.

Department of Development and Regeneration, Section Pediatric Neurology, University Hospitals Gasthuisberg, Leuven, Belgium.

Dravet syndrome (DS) is a rare and therapy-resistant epilepsy syndrome. A retrospective analysis of add-on fenfluramine treatment in 12 patients with DS was published in 2012 and provided evidence of a meaningful long-term response. Herein we present the results of a subsequent 5-year prospective observation of this original cohort. Ten patients with a mean current age of 24 years were followed prospectively from 2010 until 2014. The mean current dose of fenfluramine was 0.27 mg/kg/day, with a mean treatment duration of 16.1 years. Seizure frequency was derived from a seizure diary. Cardiac examinations and assessments of clinical effectiveness and adverse events were performed at least annually. Three patients were seizure-free for the entire 5 years, and an additional four patients experienced seizure-free intervals of at least 2 years. Fenfluramine was generally well-tolerated. Two patients had mild (stable) valve thickening on the last echocardiography that was deemed clinically insignificant. No patient had any clinical or echocardiographic signs of pulmonary hypertension. These findings support the long-term control of convulsive seizures by low-dose fenfluramine while being well tolerated in this cohort of patients with DS. After up to 27 years of treatment, no patient has developed any clinical signs or symptoms of cardiac valvulopathy or pulmonary hypertension.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/epi.13407DOI Listing
July 2016

PLCB1 epileptic encephalopathies; Review and expansion of the phenotypic spectrum.

Eur J Paediatr Neurol 2016 May 13;20(3):474-9. Epub 2016 Jan 13.

Department of Neurology-Pediatric Neurology, University and University Hospital Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium.

Background: Biallelic loss-of-function mutations of phospholipase C-β1 (PLCB1) have been described in three children with an early onset epileptic encephalopathy (EE). In two of them a homozygous deletion of the promotor and first three coding exons was found. The third patient had an almost identical heterozygous deletion in combination with a heterozygous splice site variant. All patients had intractable epilepsy and a severe developmental delay.

Methods And Results: We present the case of a boy with an infantile EE starting at the age of four months with a fever induced status epilepticus, modified hypsarrhythmia and developmental regression. The epilepsy was reasonably controlled with corticoids and valproate whereupon generalized tonic-clonic seizures appeared only each 3-4 months. However, only a slow developmental progress was seen hereafter, resulting in a severe intellectual disability with absent speech, motor delay and autistic features. We identified a novel homozygous partial deletion of PLCB1, affecting exons 7-9.

Conclusions: This report emphasizes the role of PLCB1 haploinsufficiency in severe EE. We demonstrate a phenotypic variability in patients with a PLCB1-associated EE. In addition, our findings underscore the importance of microarray analysis in all patients with an EE of unknown etiology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejpn.2016.01.002DOI Listing
May 2016

Low-dose fenfluramine in the treatment of neurologic disorders: experience in Dravet syndrome.

Ther Adv Neurol Disord 2015 Nov;8(6):328-38

Department of Neurology-Pediatric Neurology, Antwerp University Hospital, University of Antwerp, Wilrijkstraat 10, 2650 Edegem, Belgium.

In this paper, we review the experience with fenfluramine in epileptic and other paroxysmal disorders. Since the best available data are from the treatment of Dravet syndrome, we will focus primarily on this condition. Originally fenfluramine was launched as an anorectic agent. As early as 1985, seizure reduction in children could be demonstrated in a few cases with photosensitive, self-induced epilepsy. Hereafter, a small study was launched in patients with self-induced epilepsy. Results showed a significant seizure reduction, and review of the patient data showed that 5 of the 12 patients had Dravet syndrome. During that observation period, fenfluramine was withdrawn from the market because of cardiovascular side effects associated with prescribing higher doses in combination with phentermine for weight loss. In March 2002, a Belgian Royal Decree was issued permitting further study of fenfluramine in pediatric patients with intractable epilepsy. In 2011 under the Royal Decree, a prospective study of patients with Dravet syndrome treated with low-dose fenfluramine was initiated and is currently ongoing. The initial results are promising in terms of reduction of seizure frequency and overall tolerability.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1756285615607726DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4643872PMC
November 2015

Extending the KCNQ2 encephalopathy spectrum: clinical and neuroimaging findings in 17 patients.

Neurology 2013 Nov 9;81(19):1697-703. Epub 2013 Oct 9.

From the Neurogenetics Group (S.W., R.H., A.S., P.D.J.), Department of Molecular Genetics, VIB, Antwerp; Laboratory of Neurogenetics (S.W., R.H., A.S., P.D.J.), Institute Born-Bunge, University of Antwerp, Belgium; Epilepsy Centre Kempenhaeghe (S.W.), Oosterhout, the Netherlands; Department of Paediatrics (V.I.), University Hospital Centre Zagreb, Croatia; Division of Pediatric Neurology and Metabolism (R.V.C.), Department of Pediatrics, University Hospital Ghent, Belgium; Danish Epilepsy Centre (H.H., R.S.M.), Dianalund; Institute for Regional Health Research (H.H.), University of Southern Denmark, Odense; Department of Child Neurology (S.G.), Juliane Marie Center, Rigshospital, Copenhagen, Denmark; Pediatric Neurology (A.-S.S., B.C.), Department of Neurology (A.-S.S., B.C., P.D.J.), Antwerp University Hospital, Antwerp University, Antwerp, Belgium; Epilepsy Research Centre (S.B.H., S.M., I.S.), Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Austin Health, Australia; Great Ormond Street Hospital (C.E.), London; Institute of Genetic Medicine (R.H.), Newcastle University, UK; Child Neurology and Neurorehabilitation Unit (G.C., M.A.), Department of Pediatrics, Central Hospital of Bolzano; Neurology Unit and laboratories (T.P., R.G., C.M.), A. Meyer Children's Hospital, Florence; Child Neuropsychiatry Unit (L.G.), Spedali Civili, Brescia, Italy; Pädiatrie I (K.R., E.H.), Division of Pediatric Neurology, University Hospital Innsbruck, Austria; University Hospital Essen (B.A.), University Duisburg-Essen; Department of Paediatric Neurology and Developmental Medicine (A.B.), University Children's Hospital Tübingen, Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen; Center for Child Neurology (I.B.), Sana Krankenhaus Gerresheim, Düsseldorf; Department of Neuropediatrics (S.S.), Hospital for Children and Adolescents, University of Leipzig, Germany; Department of Neurology (B.S., A.P.), Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard School of Medicine; Department of Biology (B.S.), Brandeis U

Objectives: To determine the frequency of KCNQ2 mutations in patients with neonatal epileptic encephalopathy (NEE), and to expand the phenotypic spectrum of KCNQ2 epileptic encephalopathy.

Methods: Eighty-four patients with unexplained NEE were screened for KCNQ2 mutations using classic Sanger sequencing. Clinical data of 6 additional patients with KCNQ2 mutations detected by gene panel were collected. Detailed phenotyping was performed with particular attention to seizure frequency, cognitive outcome, and video-EEG.

Results: In the cohort, we identified 9 different heterozygous de novo KCNQ2 missense mutations in 11 of 84 patients (13%). Two of 6 missense mutations detected by gene panel were recurrent and present in patients of the cohort. Seizures at onset typically consisted of tonic posturing often associated with focal clonic jerking, and were accompanied by apnea with desaturation. One patient diagnosed by gene panel had seizure onset at the age of 5 months. Based on seizure frequency at onset and cognitive outcome, we delineated 3 clinical subgroups, expanding the spectrum of KCNQ2 encephalopathy to patients with moderate intellectual disability and/or infrequent seizures at onset. Recurrent mutations lead to relatively homogenous phenotypes. One patient responded favorably to retigabine; 5 patients had a good response to carbamazepine. In 6 patients, seizures with bradycardia were recorded. One patient died of probable sudden unexpected death in epilepsy.

Conclusion: KCNQ2 mutations cause approximately 13% of unexplained NEE. Patients present with a wide spectrum of severity and, although rare, infantile epilepsy onset is possible.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1212/01.wnl.0000435296.72400.a1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3812107PMC
November 2013

PRRT2 mutations: exploring the phenotypical boundaries.

J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 2014 Apr 7;85(4):462-5. Epub 2013 Oct 7.

Neurogenetics Group, Department of Molecular Genetics, VIB, , Antwerp, Belgium.

Background: Mutations in the proline-rich transmembrane protein 2 (PRRT2) gene have been identified in patients with benign (familial) infantile convulsions (B(F)IC), infantile convulsions with choreoathetosis (ICCA) and paroxysmal dyskinesias (PDs). However it remains unknown whether PRRT2 mutations are causal in other epilepsy syndromes. After we discovered a PRRT2 mutation in a large family with ICCA containing one individual with febrile seizures (FS) and one individual with West syndrome, we analysed PRRT2 in a heterogeneous cohort of patients with different types of infantile epilepsy.

Methods: We screened a cohort of 460 patients with B(F)IC or ICCA, fever related seizures or infantile epileptic encephalopathies. All patients were tested for point mutations using direct sequencing.

Results: We identified heterozygous mutations in 16 individuals: 10 familial and 6 sporadic cases. All patients were diagnosed with B(F)IC, ICCA or PD. We were not able to detect mutations in any of the other epilepsy syndromes. Several mutation carriers had learning disabilities and/or impaired fine motor skills later in life.

Conclusions: PRRT2 mutations do not seem to be involved in the aetiology of FS or infantile epileptic encephalopathies. Therefore B(F)IC, ICCA and PD remain the core phenotypes associated with PRRT2 mutations. The presence of learning disabilities or neuropsychiatric problems in several mutation carriers calls for additional clinical studies addressing this developmental aspect in more detail.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jnnp-2013-305122DOI Listing
April 2014

Spontaneous spinal epidural hematoma in infancy: review of the literature and the "seventh" case report.

Eur J Paediatr Neurol 2013 Nov 17;17(6):537-42. Epub 2013 Jun 17.

Department of Neurology-Pediatric Neurology, Antwerp University Hospital (UZA), University of Antwerp, Wilrijkstraat 10, B-2650 Edegem, Belgium; Department of Pediatrics, Antwerp University Hospital, University of Antwerp, Belgium.

Spontaneous spinal epidural hematomas (SSEH) are a rare cause of spinal cord compression in childhood and especially in infancy. We reviewed the literature and describe a case of an 8-month-old boy with a large spontaneous cervico-thoracic epidural hematoma. With this review we want to detail the importance of early investigation, diagnosis and treatment in infants with SSEH. In our case the infant presented with irritability and crying and an ascending paralysis within four days. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the spine demonstrated an extensive epidural hematoma between C5 and L1, serious medullar compression and secondary cervical and thoracic medullar edema and hydromyelia. An emergency laminectomy was performed with evacuation of a well organized hematoma. There was a partial recuperation of the neurologic symptoms. Based on the scarce literature which only concerns seven case reports, SSEH is a rare cause of spinal compression in infancy. The presentation is often not specific and neurological symptoms are often lacking in the beginning. However early diagnosis with MRI and prompt neurosurgical intervention are important to improve outcome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejpn.2013.05.012DOI Listing
November 2013
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