Publications by authors named "Marjan van Kempen"

36 Publications

Modifier genes in SCN1A-related epilepsy syndromes.

Mol Genet Genomic Med 2020 04 7;8(4):e1103. Epub 2020 Feb 7.

Department of Genetics, Center for Molecular Medicine, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Background: SCN1A is one of the most important epilepsy-related genes, with pathogenic variants leading to a range of phenotypes with varying disease severity. Different modifying factors have been hypothesized to influence SCN1A-related phenotypes. We investigate the presence of rare and more common variants in epilepsy-related genes as potential modifiers of SCN1A-related disease severity.

Methods: 87 patients with SCN1A-related epilepsy were investigated. Whole-exome sequencing was performed by the Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI). Functional variants in 422 genes associated with epilepsy and/or neuronal excitability were investigated. Differences in proportions of variants between the epilepsy genes and four control gene sets were calculated, and compared to the proportions of variants in the same genes in the ExAC database.

Results: Statistically significant excesses of variants in epilepsy genes were observed in the complete cohort and in the combined group of mildly and severely affected patients, particularly for variants with minor allele frequencies of <0.05. Patients with extreme phenotypes showed much greater excesses of epilepsy gene variants than patients with intermediate phenotypes.

Conclusion: Our results indicate that relatively common variants in epilepsy genes, which would not necessarily be classified as pathogenic, may play a large role in modulating SCN1A phenotypes. They may modify the phenotypes of both severely and mildly affected patients. Our results may be a first step toward meaningful testing of modifier gene variants in regular diagnostics for individual patients, to provide a better estimation of disease severity for newly diagnosed patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mgg3.1103DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7196470PMC
April 2020

Influence of common SCN1A promoter variants on the severity of SCN1A-related phenotypes.

Mol Genet Genomic Med 2019 07 29;7(7):e00727. Epub 2019 May 29.

Department of Genetics, Center for Molecular Medicine, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Background: Pathogenic variants in SCN1A cause variable epilepsy disorders with different disease severities. We here investigate whether common variation in the promoter region of the unaffected SCN1A allele could reduce normal expression, leading to a decreased residual function of Nav1.1, and therefore to more severe clinical outcomes in patients affected by pathogenic SCN1A variants.

Methods: Five different SCN1A promoter-haplotypes were functionally assessed in SH-SY5Y cells using Firefly and Renilla luciferase assays. The SCN1A promoter region was analyzed in a cohort of 143 participants with SCN1A pathogenic variants. Differences in clinical features and outcomes between participants with and without common variants in the SCN1A promoter-region of their unaffected allele were investigated.

Results: All non-wildtype haplotypes showed a significant reduction in luciferase expression, compared to the wildtype promoter-region (65%-80%, p = 0.039-0.0023). No statistically significant differences in clinical outcomes were observed between patients with and without common promoter variants. However, patients with a wildtype promoter-haplotype on their unaffected SCN1A allele showed a nonsignificant trend for milder phenotypes.

Conclusion: The nonsignificant observed trends in our study warrant replication studies in larger cohorts to explore the potential modifying role of these common SCN1A promoter-haplotypes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mgg3.727DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6625088PMC
July 2019

Outcomes and comorbidities of SCN1A-related seizure disorders.

Epilepsy Behav 2019 01 5;90:252-259. Epub 2018 Dec 5.

Department of Genetics, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht University, the Netherlands.

Purpose: Differentiating between Dravet syndrome and non-Dravet SCN1A-related phenotypes is important for prognosis regarding epilepsy severity, cognitive development, and comorbidities. When a child is diagnosed with genetic epilepsy with febrile seizures plus (GEFS+) or febrile seizures (FS), accurate prognostic information is essential as well, but detailed information on seizure course, seizure freedom, medication use, and comorbidities is lacking for this milder patient group. In this cross-sectional study, we explore disease characteristics in milder SCN1A-related phenotypes and the nature, occurrence, and relationships of SCN1A-related comorbidities in both patients with Dravet and non-Dravet syndromes.

Methods: A cohort of 164 Dutch participants with SCN1A-related seizures was evaluated, consisting of 116 patients with Dravet syndrome and 48 patients with either GEFS+, febrile seizures plus (FS+), or FS. Clinical data were collected from medical records, semi-structured telephone interviews, and three questionnaires: the Functional Mobility Scale (FMS), the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory (PedsQL) Measurement Model, and the Child or Adult Behavior Checklists (CBCL/ABCL).

Results: Walking disabilities and severe behavioral problems affect 71% and 43% of patients with Dravet syndrome respectively and are almost never present in patients with non-Dravet syndromes. These comorbidities are strongly correlated to lower quality-of-life (QoL) scores. Less severe comorbidities occur in patients with non-Dravet syndromes: learning problems and psychological/behavioral problems are reported for 27% and 38% respectively. The average QoL score of the non-Dravet group was comparable with that of the general population. The majority of patients with non-Dravet syndromes becomes seizure-free after 10 years of age (85%).

Conclusions: Severe behavioral problems and walking disabilities are common in patients with Dravet syndrome and should receive specific attention during clinical management. Although the epilepsy course of patients with non-Dravet syndromes is much more favorable, milder comorbidities frequently occur in this group as well. Our results may be of great value for clinical care and informing newly diagnosed patients and their parents about prognosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.yebeh.2018.09.041DOI Listing
January 2019

Assessment of parental mosaicism in -related epilepsy by single-molecule molecular inversion probes and next-generation sequencing.

J Med Genet 2019 02 27;56(2):75-80. Epub 2018 Oct 27.

Department of Genetics, Center for Molecular Medicine, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Background: Dravet syndrome is a severe genetic encephalopathy, caused by pathogenic variants in Low-grade parental mosaicism occurs in a substantial proportion of families (7%-13%) and has important implications for recurrence risks. However, parental mosaicism can remain undetected by methods regularly used in diagnostics. In this study, we use single-molecule molecular inversion probes (smMIP), a technique with high sensitivity for detecting low-grade mosaic variants and high cost-effectiveness, to investigate the incidence of parental mosaicism of variants in a cohort of 90 families and assess the feasibility of this technique.

Methods: Deep sequencing of was performed using smMIPs. False positive rates for each of the proband's pathogenic variants were determined in 145 unrelated samples. If parents showed corresponding variant alleles at a significantly higher rate than the established noise ratio, mosaicism was confirmed by droplet digital PCR (ddPCR).

Results: Sequence coverage of at least 100× at the location of the corresponding pathogenic variant was reached for 80 parent couples. The variant ratio was significantly higher than the established noise ratio in eight parent couples, of which four (5%) were regarded as true mosaics, based on ddPCR results. The false positive rate of smMIP analysis without ddPCR was therefore 50%. Three of these variants had previously been considered de novo in the proband by Sanger sequencing.

Conclusion: smMIP technology combined withnext generation sequencing (NGS) performs better than Sanger sequencing in the detection of parental mosaicism. Because parental mosaicism has important implications for genetic counselling and recurrence risks, we stress the importance of implementing high-sensitivity NGS-based assays in standard diagnostics.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jmedgenet-2018-105672DOI Listing
February 2019

Correction: IQSEC2-related encephalopathy in males and females: a comparative study including 37 novel patients.

Genet Med 2019 Aug;21(8):1897-1898

APHP, Service de genetique medicale, Necker- Enfants Malades Hospital, Imagine Institute, Paris Descartes University, Paris, France.

This Article was originally published under Nature Research's License to Publish, but has now been made available under a CC BY 4.0 license. The PDF and HTML versions of the Article have been modified accordingly.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41436-018-0327-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7608434PMC
August 2019

IQSEC2-related encephalopathy in males and females: a comparative study including 37 novel patients.

Genet Med 2019 04 12;21(4):837-849. Epub 2018 Sep 12.

APHP, Service de genetique medicale, Necker-Enfants Malades Hospital, Imagine Institute, Paris Descartes University, Paris, France.

Purpose: Variants in IQSEC2, escaping X inactivation, cause X-linked intellectual disability with frequent epilepsy in males and females. We aimed to investigate sex-specific differences.

Methods: We collected the data of 37 unpublished patients (18 males and 19 females) with IQSEC2 pathogenic variants and 5 individuals with variants of unknown significance and reviewed published variants. We compared variant types and phenotypes in males and females and performed an analysis of IQSEC2 isoforms.

Results: IQSEC2 pathogenic variants mainly led to premature truncation and were scattered throughout the longest brain-specific isoform, encoding the synaptic IQSEC2/BRAG1 protein. Variants occurred de novo in females but were either de novo (2/3) or inherited (1/3) in males, with missense variants being predominantly inherited. Developmental delay and intellectual disability were overall more severe in males than in females. Likewise, seizures were more frequently observed and intractable, and started earlier in males than in females. No correlation was observed between the age at seizure onset and severity of intellectual disability or resistance to antiepileptic treatments.

Conclusion: This study provides a comprehensive overview of IQSEC2-related encephalopathy in males and females, and suggests that an accurate dosage of IQSEC2 at the synapse is crucial during normal brain development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41436-018-0268-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6752297PMC
April 2019

Relationship of electrophysiological dysfunction and clinical severity in SCN2A-related epilepsies.

Hum Mutat 2018 12 13;39(12):1942-1956. Epub 2018 Sep 13.

Department of Neurology and Epileptology, Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research, University of Tuebingen, Tuebingen, Germany.

Variants in the SCN2A gene cause a broad spectrum of epilepsy syndromes of variable severity including benign neonatal-infantile epilepsy (BFNIE), developmental and epileptic encephalopathies (DEE), and other neuropsychiatric disorders. Here, we studied three newly identified variants, which caused distinct phenotypes observed in nine affected individuals of three families, including BFNIE, and DEE with intractable neonatal seizures. Whole cell patch-clamp recordings of transfected tsA201 cells disclosed an increased current density and an increased subthreshold sodium inward current upon an action potential stimulus (p.(Lys908Glu)), a hyperpolarizing shift of the activation curve (p.(Val208Glu) and p.(Thr773Ile)), and an increased persistent current (p.(Thr773Ile)). To evaluate genotype-phenotype correlations, we next developed scoring systems for both the extent of the electrophysiological dysfunction and the severity of the clinical phenotype and applied those to 21 previously and newly functionally characterized SCN2A variants. All inherited variants were associated with a mild clinical phenotype and a lower electrophysiological score compared to those occurring de novo and causing severe phenotypes. Our results thus reveal a nice correlation between the extent of channel dysfunction and the clinical severity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/humu.23619DOI Listing
December 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

Influence of contraindicated medication use on cognitive outcome in Dravet syndrome and age at first afebrile seizure as a clinical predictor in SCN1A-related seizure phenotypes.

Epilepsia 2018 06 11;59(6):1154-1165. Epub 2018 May 11.

Department of Medical Genetics, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Objective: Pathogenic variants in SCN1A can give rise to extremely variable disease severities that may be indistinguishable at their first presentation. We aim to find clinical features that can help predict the evolution of seizures into Dravet syndrome and clinical features that predict cognitive outcome in Dravet syndrome. We specifically investigate the role of contraindicated medication (CIM) as a possible modifier of cognitive decline.

Methods: A cohort of 164 Dutch participants with SCN1A-related seizures was evaluated. Clinical data were collected from medical records and semistructured telephone interviews. Cognitive function was classified by a child neurologist, neuropsychologist, and clinical geneticist. Several clinical variables, including duration of CIM use in the first 5 years of disease, were evaluated in univariate and multivariate analyses.

Results: A longer duration of CIM use in the first 5 years after seizure onset was significantly associated with a worse cognitive outcome at time of inclusion, and with lower interpolated intelligence quotient/developmental quotient scores after the first 5 years of disease in Dravet syndrome patients. CIM use remained a significant predictor for cognitive outcome in a multivariate regression model, as did age at the first observation of developmental delay and age at first afebrile seizure. Age at first afebrile seizure was the most accurate predictor for evolution of seizures into Dravet syndrome for the complete cohort.

Significance: Our data suggest that a longer CIM use in the first 5 years of disease can have negative effects on cognitive outcome in Dravet syndrome. An early diagnosis is essential to avoid these drugs. Furthermore, we identified age at first afebrile seizure as an important predictor for evolution of seizures into Dravet syndrome and for the severity of Dravet syndrome, which can be used to counsel parents of young patients with SCN1A-related seizures.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/epi.14191DOI Listing
June 2018

Mosaicism of de novo pathogenic SCN1A variants in epilepsy is a frequent phenomenon that correlates with variable phenotypes.

Epilepsia 2018 03 20;59(3):690-703. Epub 2018 Feb 20.

Department of Genetics, Center for Molecular Medicine, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Objective: Phenotypes caused by de novo SCN1A pathogenic variants are very variable, ranging from severely affected patients with Dravet syndrome to much milder genetic epilepsy febrile seizures plus cases. The most important determinant of disease severity is the type of variant, with variants that cause a complete loss of function of the SCN1A protein (α-subunit of the neuronal sodium channel Nav1.1) being detected almost exclusively in Dravet syndrome patients. However, even within Dravet syndrome disease severity ranges greatly, and consequently other disease modifiers must exist. A better prediction of disease severity is very much needed in daily practice to improve counseling, stressing the importance of identifying modifying factors in this patient group. We evaluated 128 participants with de novo, pathogenic SCN1A variants to investigate whether mosaicism, caused by postzygotic mutation, is a major modifier in SCN1A-related epilepsy.

Methods: Mosaicism was investigated by reanalysis of the pathogenic SCN1A variants using single molecule molecular inversion probes and next generation sequencing with high coverage. Allelic ratios of pathogenic variants were used to determine whether mosaicism was likely. Selected mosaic variants were confirmed by droplet digital polymerase chain reaction and sequencing of different tissues. Developmental outcome was classified based on available data on intelligence quotient and school functioning/education.

Results: Mosaicism was present for 7.5% of de novo pathogenic SCN1A variants in symptomatic patients. Mosaic participants were less severely affected than nonmosaic participants if only participants with truncating variants are considered (distribution of developmental outcome scores, Mann-Whitney U, P = .023).

Significance: Postzygotic mutation is a common phenomenon in SCN1A-related epilepsies. Participants with mosaicism have on average milder phenotypes, suggesting that mosaicism can be a major modifier of SCN1A-related diseases. Detection of mosaicism has important implications for genetic counseling and can be achieved by deep sequencing of unique reads.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/epi.14021DOI Listing
March 2018

Genetic and phenotypic heterogeneity suggest therapeutic implications in SCN2A-related disorders.

Brain 2017 May;140(5):1316-1336

CeGaT - Center for Genomics and Transcriptomics, Tübingen, Germany.

Mutations in SCN2A, a gene encoding the voltage-gated sodium channel Nav1.2, have been associated with a spectrum of epilepsies and neurodevelopmental disorders. Here, we report the phenotypes of 71 patients and review 130 previously reported patients. We found that (i) encephalopathies with infantile/childhood onset epilepsies (≥3 months of age) occur almost as often as those with an early infantile onset (<3 months), and are thus more frequent than previously reported; (ii) distinct phenotypes can be seen within the late onset group, including myoclonic-atonic epilepsy (two patients), Lennox-Gastaut not emerging from West syndrome (two patients), and focal epilepsies with an electrical status epilepticus during slow sleep-like EEG pattern (six patients); and (iii) West syndrome constitutes a common phenotype with a major recurring mutation (p.Arg853Gln: two new and four previously reported children). Other known phenotypes include Ohtahara syndrome, epilepsy of infancy with migrating focal seizures, and intellectual disability or autism without epilepsy. To assess the response to antiepileptic therapy, we retrospectively reviewed the treatment regimen and the course of the epilepsy in 66 patients for which well-documented medical information was available. We find that the use of sodium channel blockers was often associated with clinically relevant seizure reduction or seizure freedom in children with early infantile epilepsies (<3 months), whereas other antiepileptic drugs were less effective. In contrast, sodium channel blockers were rarely effective in epilepsies with later onset (≥3 months) and sometimes induced seizure worsening. Regarding the genetic findings, truncating mutations were exclusively seen in patients with late onset epilepsies and lack of response to sodium channel blockers. Functional characterization of four selected missense mutations using whole cell patch-clamping in tsA201 cells-together with data from the literature-suggest that mutations associated with early infantile epilepsy result in increased sodium channel activity with gain-of-function, characterized by slowing of fast inactivation, acceleration of its recovery or increased persistent sodium current. Further, a good response to sodium channel blockers clinically was found to be associated with a relatively small gain-of-function. In contrast, mutations in patients with late-onset forms and an insufficient response to sodium channel blockers were associated with loss-of-function effects, including a depolarizing shift of voltage-dependent activation or a hyperpolarizing shift of channel availability (steady-state inactivation). Our clinical and experimental data suggest a correlation between age at disease onset, response to sodium channel blockers and the functional properties of mutations in children with SCN2A-related epilepsy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awx054DOI Listing
May 2017

Targeted sequencing of 351 candidate genes for epileptic encephalopathy in a large cohort of patients.

Mol Genet Genomic Med 2016 Sep 30;4(5):568-80. Epub 2016 Jul 30.

Department of Genetics UMC Utrecht Utrecht The Netherlands.

Background: Many genes are candidates for involvement in epileptic encephalopathy (EE) because one or a few possibly pathogenic variants have been found in patients, but insufficient genetic or functional evidence exists for a definite annotation.

Methods: To increase the number of validated EE genes, we sequenced 26 known and 351 candidate genes for EE in 360 patients. Variants in 25 genes known to be involved in EE or related phenotypes were followed up in 41 patients. We prioritized the candidate genes, and followed up 31 variants in this prioritized subset of candidate genes.

Results: Twenty-nine genotypes in known genes for EE (19) or related diseases (10), dominant as well as recessive or X-linked, were classified as likely pathogenic variants. Among those, likely pathogenic de novo variants were found in EE genes that act dominantly, including the recently identified genes EEF1A2, KCNB1 and the X-linked gene IQSEC2. A de novo frameshift variant in candidate gene HNRNPU was the only de novo variant found among the followed-up candidate genes, and the patient's phenotype was similar to a few recent publications.

Conclusion: Mutations in genes described in OMIM as, for example, intellectual disability gene can lead to phenotypes that get classified as EE in the clinic. We confirmed existing literature reports that de novo loss-of-function HNRNPUmutations lead to severe developmental delay and febrile seizures in the first year of life.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mgg3.235DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5023942PMC
September 2016

Pitfalls in genetic testing: the story of missed SCN1A mutations.

Mol Genet Genomic Med 2016 Jul 14;4(4):457-64. Epub 2016 Apr 14.

Department of Neuropediatrics University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein Kiel Germany.

Background: Sanger sequencing, still the standard technique for genetic testing in most diagnostic laboratories and until recently widely used in research, is gradually being complemented by next-generation sequencing (NGS). No single mutation detection technique is however perfect in identifying all mutations. Therefore, we wondered to what extent inconsistencies between Sanger sequencing and NGS affect the molecular diagnosis of patients. Since mutations in SCN1A, the major gene implicated in epilepsy, are found in the majority of Dravet syndrome (DS) patients, we focused on missed SCN1A mutations.

Methods: We sent out a survey to 16 genetic centers performing SCN1A testing.

Results: We collected data on 28 mutations initially missed using Sanger sequencing. All patients were falsely reported as SCN1A mutation-negative, both due to technical limitations and human errors.

Conclusion: We illustrate the pitfalls of Sanger sequencing and most importantly provide evidence that SCN1A mutations are an even more frequent cause of DS than already anticipated.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mgg3.217DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4947864PMC
July 2016

Teaching NeuroImages: White matter hypomyelination and progressive calcifications in cerebral folate deficiency.

Neurology 2016 07;87(1):e4-5

From the Departments of Neurology (J.N.) and Radiology (A.A.P.), Maastricht University Medical Center; and Department of Medical Genetics (M.J.A.v.K.), University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000002805DOI Listing
July 2016

De novo mutations of KIAA2022 in females cause intellectual disability and intractable epilepsy.

J Med Genet 2016 12 29;53(12):850-858. Epub 2016 Jun 29.

Department of Medical Genetics, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Background: Mutations in the KIAA2022 gene have been reported in male patients with X-linked intellectual disability, and related female carriers were unaffected. Here, we report 14 female patients who carry a heterozygous de novo KIAA2022 mutation and share a phenotype characterised by intellectual disability and epilepsy.

Methods: Reported females were selected for genetic testing because of substantial developmental problems and/or epilepsy. X-inactivation and expression studies were performed when possible.

Results: All mutations were predicted to result in a frameshift or premature stop. 12 out of 14 patients had intractable epilepsy with myoclonic and/or absence seizures, and generalised in 11. Thirteen patients had mild to severe intellectual disability. This female phenotype partially overlaps with the reported male phenotype which consists of more severe intellectual disability, microcephaly, growth retardation, facial dysmorphisms and, less frequently, epilepsy. One female patient showed completely skewed X-inactivation, complete absence of RNA expression in blood and a phenotype similar to male patients. In the six other tested patients, X-inactivation was random, confirmed by a non-significant twofold to threefold decrease of RNA expression in blood, consistent with the expected mosaicism between cells expressing mutant or normal KIAA2022 alleles.

Conclusions: Heterozygous loss of KIAA2022 expression is a cause of intellectual disability in females. Compared with its hemizygous male counterpart, the heterozygous female disease has less severe intellectual disability, but is more often associated with a severe and intractable myoclonic epilepsy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jmedgenet-2016-103909DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5264224PMC
December 2016

Remarkable Phenytoin Sensitivity in 4 Children with SCN8A-related Epilepsy: A Molecular Neuropharmacological Approach.

Neurotherapeutics 2016 Jan;13(1):192-7

Department of Medical Genetics, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Mutations in SCN8A are associated with epilepsy and intellectual disability. SCN8A encodes for sodium channel Nav1.6, which is located in the brain. Gain-of-function missense mutations in SCN8A are thought to lead to increased firing of excitatory neurons containing Nav1.6, and therefore to lead to increased seizure susceptibility. We hypothesized that sodium channel blockers could have a beneficial effect in patients with SCN8A-related epilepsy by blocking the overactive Nav1.6 and thereby counteracting the effect of the mutation. Herein, we describe 4 patients with a missense SCN8A mutation and epilepsy who all show a remarkably good response on high doses of phenytoin and loss of seizure control when phenytoin medication was reduced, while side effects were relatively mild. In 2 patients, repeated withdrawal of phenytoin led to the reoccurrence of seizures. Based on the findings in these patients and the underlying molecular mechanism we consider treatment with (high-dose) phenytoin as a possible treatment option in patients with difficult-to-control seizures due to an SCN8A mutation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13311-015-0372-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4720675PMC
January 2016

Effect of vaccinations on seizure risk and disease course in Dravet syndrome.

Neurology 2015 Aug 22;85(7):596-603. Epub 2015 Jul 22.

From the Department of Medical Genetics (N.E.V., A.C.M.S., E.I., M.v.K., C.G.F.d.K., B.P.C.K., N.V.K., D.L., E.H.B.) and Department of Child Neurology, Brain Center Rudolf Magnus (F.E.J., K.P.B.), University Medical Center Utrecht; Centre for Infectious Disease Control (N.A.T.v.d.M., P.E.V.-d.B., J.M.K.), National Institute for Public Health and Environment-RIVM, Bilthoven; Stichting Epilepsie Instellingen Nederland (E.H., W.B.G.), Zwolle; Stichting Epilepsie Instellingen Nederland (H.H.G., P.B.A.), Heemstede; Epilepsy Center Kempenhaeghe (A.d.L.), Heeze; Department of Child Neurology (R.F.N.), Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam; Department of Child Neurology (J.H.S.), Radboud Medical Centre, Nijmegen; Department of Neurology (H.S.), Canisius-Wilhelmina Hospital, Nijmegen; Department of Child Neurology (R.J.V.), VU Medical Centre, Amsterdam; Department of Child Neurology (J.N.), Maastricht University Medical Centre; and Department of Neurology (O.F.B.), University of Groningen, University Medical Centre of Groningen, the Netherlands.

Objective: To study the effect of vaccination-associated seizure onset on disease course and estimate the risk of subsequent seizures after infant pertussis combination and measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccinations in Dravet syndrome (DS).

Methods: We retrospectively analyzed data from hospital medical files, child health clinics, and the vaccination register for children with DS and pathogenic SCN1A mutations. Seizures within 24 hours after infant whole-cell, acellular, or nonpertussis combination vaccination or within 5 to 12 days after MMR vaccination were defined as "vaccination-associated." Risks of vaccination-associated seizures for the different vaccines were analyzed in univariable and in multivariable logistic regression for pertussis combination vaccines and by a self-controlled case series analysis using parental seizure registries for MMR vaccines. Disease courses of children with and without vaccination-associated seizure onset were compared.

Results: Children who had DS (n = 77) with and without vaccination-associated seizure onset (21% and 79%, respectively) differed in age at first seizure (median 3.7 vs 6.1 months, p < 0.001) but not in age at first nonvaccination-associated seizure, age at first report of developmental delay, or cognitive outcome. The risk of subsequent vaccination-associated seizures was significantly lower for acellular pertussis (9%; odds ratio 0.18, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.05-0.71) and nonpertussis (8%; odds ratio 0.11, 95% CI 0.02-0.59) than whole-cell pertussis (37%; reference) vaccines. Self-controlled case series analysis showed an increased incidence rate ratio of seizures of 2.3 (95% CI 1.5-3.4) within the risk period of 5 to 12 days following MMR vaccination.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that vaccination-associated earlier seizure onset does not alter disease course in DS, while the risk of subsequent vaccination-associated seizures is probably vaccine-specific.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000001855DOI Listing
August 2015

Mutations in KCNT1 cause a spectrum of focal epilepsies.

Epilepsia 2015 Sep 30;56(9):e114-20. Epub 2015 Jun 30.

Department of Pediatrics, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark.

Autosomal dominant mutations in the sodium-gated potassium channel subunit gene KCNT1 have been associated with two distinct seizure syndromes, nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy (NFLE) and malignant migrating focal seizures of infancy (MMFSI). To further explore the phenotypic spectrum associated with KCNT1, we examined individuals affected with focal epilepsy or an epileptic encephalopathy for mutations in the gene. We identified KCNT1 mutations in 12 previously unreported patients with focal epilepsy, multifocal epilepsy, cardiac arrhythmia, and in a family with sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP), in addition to patients with NFLE and MMFSI. In contrast to the 100% penetrance so far reported for KCNT1 mutations, we observed incomplete penetrance. It is notable that we report that the one KCNT1 mutation, p.Arg398Gln, can lead to either of the two distinct phenotypes, ADNFLE or MMFSI, even within the same family. This indicates that genotype-phenotype relationships for KCNT1 mutations are not straightforward. We demonstrate that KCNT1 mutations are highly pleiotropic and are associated with phenotypes other than ADNFLE and MMFSI. KCNT1 mutations are now associated with Ohtahara syndrome, MMFSI, and nocturnal focal epilepsy. They may also be associated with multifocal epilepsy and cardiac disturbances.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/epi.13071DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5915334PMC
September 2015

Identification of Srp9 as a febrile seizure susceptibility gene.

Ann Clin Transl Neurol 2014 Apr 12;1(4):239-50. Epub 2014 Mar 12.

Department of Translational Neuroscience, Brain Center Rudolf Magnus, University Medical Center Utrecht Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Objective: Febrile seizures (FS) are the most common seizure type in young children. Complex FS are a risk factor for mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (mTLE). To identify new FS susceptibility genes we used a forward genetic strategy in mice and subsequently analyzed candidate genes in humans.

Methods: We mapped a quantitative trait locus (QTL1) for hyperthermia-induced FS on mouse chromosome 1, containing the signal recognition particle 9 (Srp9) gene. Effects of differential Srp9 expression were assessed in vivo and in vitro. Hippocampal SRP9 expression and genetic association were analyzed in FS and mTLE patients.

Results: Srp9 was differentially expressed between parental strains C57BL/6J and A/J. Chromosome substitution strain 1 (CSS1) mice exhibited lower FS susceptibility and Srp9 expression than C57BL/6J mice. In vivo knockdown of brain Srp9 reduced FS susceptibility. Mice with reduced Srp9 expression and FS susceptibility, exhibited reduced hippocampal AMPA and NMDA currents. Downregulation of neuronal Srp9 reduced surface expression of AMPA receptor subunit GluA1. mTLE patients with antecedent FS had higher SRP9 expression than patients without. SRP9 promoter SNP rs12403575(G/A) was genetically associated with FS and mTLE.

Interpretation: Our findings identify SRP9 as a novel FS susceptibility gene and indicate that SRP9 conveys its effects through endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-dependent synthesis and trafficking of membrane proteins, such as glutamate receptors. Discovery of this new FS gene and mechanism may provide new leads for early diagnosis and treatment of children with complex FS at risk for mTLE.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/acn3.48DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4292741PMC
April 2014

Severe Neonatal Epileptic Encephalopathy and KCNQ2 Mutation: Neuropathological Substrate?

Front Pediatr 2014 19;2:136. Epub 2014 Dec 19.

Department of Child Neurology, Neuroscience Campus Amsterdam, VU University Medical Center , Amsterdam , Netherlands.

Background: Neonatal convulsions are clinical manifestations in a heterogeneous group of disorders with different etiology and outcome. They are attributed to several genetic causes.

Methods: We describe a patient with intractable neonatal seizures who died from respiratory compromise during a status epilepticus.

Results: This case report provides electroencephalogram (EEG), MRI, genetic analysis, and neuropathological data. Genetic analysis revealed a de novo heterozygous missense mutation in the KCNQ2 gene, which encodes a subunit of a voltage-gated potassium channel. KCNQ2 gene mutation is associated with intractable neonatal seizures. EEG, MRI, data as well as mutation analysis have been described in other KCNQ2 cases. Post-mortem neuropathological investigation revealed mild malformation of cortical development with increased heterotopic neurons in the deep white matter compared to an age-matched control subject. The new finding of this study is the combination of a KCNQ2 mutation and the cortical abnormalities.

Conclusion: KCNQ2 mutations should be considered in neonates with refractory epilepsy of unknown cause. The mild cortical malformation is an important new finding, though it remains unknown whether these cortical abnormalities are due to the KCNQ2 mutation or are secondary to the refractory seizures.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fped.2014.00136DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4271583PMC
January 2015

Etiologies for seizures around the time of vaccination.

Pediatrics 2014 Oct 15;134(4):658-66. Epub 2014 Sep 15.

Department of Medical Genetics, and.

Objectives: This study was an assessment of the incidence, course, and etiology of epilepsy with vaccination-related seizure onset in a population-based cohort of children.

Methods: The medical data of 990 children with seizures after vaccination in the first 2 years of life, reported to the National Institute for Public Health and Environment in the Netherlands in 1997 through 2006, were reviewed. Follow-up data were obtained of children who were subsequently diagnosed with epilepsy and had had seizure onset within 24 hours after administration of an inactivated vaccine or 5 to 12 days after a live attenuated vaccine.

Results: Follow-up was available for 23 of 26 children (median age: 10.6 years) with epilepsy onset after vaccination. Twelve children developed epileptic encephalopathy, 8 had benign epilepsy, and 3 had encephalopathy before seizure onset. Underlying causes were identified in 15 children (65%) and included SCN1A-related Dravet syndrome (formerly severe myoclonic epilepsy of infancy) or genetic epilepsy with febrile seizures plus syndrome (n = 8 and n = 1, respectively), a protocadherin 19 mutation, a 1qter microdeletion, neuronal migration disorders (n = 2), and other monogenic familial epilepsy (n = 2).

Conclusions: Our results suggest that in most cases, genetic or structural defects are the underlying cause of epilepsy with onset after vaccination, including both cases with preexistent encephalopathy or benign epilepsy with good outcome. These results have significant added value in counseling of parents of children with vaccination-related first seizures, and they might help to support public faith in vaccination programs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1542/peds.2014-0690DOI Listing
October 2014

Febrile temperatures unmask biophysical defects in Nav1.1 epilepsy mutations supportive of seizure initiation.

J Gen Physiol 2013 Dec;142(6):641-53

Department of Medical Genetics, Division of Biomedical Genetics, and 2 Department of Medical Physiology, Division of Heart and Lungs, University Medical Center Utrecht, 3508 AB Utrecht, Netherlands.

Generalized epilepsy with febrile seizures plus (GEFS+) is an early onset febrile epileptic syndrome with therapeutic responsive (a)febrile seizures continuing later in life. Dravet syndrome (DS) or severe myoclonic epilepsy of infancy has a complex phenotype including febrile generalized or hemiclonic convulsions before the age of 1, followed by intractable myoclonic, complex partial, or absence seizures. Both diseases can result from mutations in the Nav1.1 sodium channel, and initially, seizures are typically triggered by fever. We previously characterized two Nav1.1 mutants-R859H (GEFS+) and R865G (DS)-at room temperature and reported a mixture of biophysical gating defects that could not easily predict the phenotype presentation as either GEFS+ or DS. In this study, we extend the characterization of Nav1.1 wild-type, R859H, and R865G channels to physiological (37°C) and febrile (40°C) temperatures. At physiological temperature, a variety of biophysical defects were detected in both mutants, including a hyperpolarized shift in the voltage dependence of activation and a delayed recovery from fast and slow inactivation. Interestingly, at 40°C we also detected additional gating defects for both R859H and R865G mutants. The GEFS+ mutant R859H showed a loss of function in the voltage dependence of inactivation and an increased channel use-dependency at 40°C with no reduction in peak current density. The DS mutant R865G exhibited reduced peak sodium currents, enhanced entry into slow inactivation, and increased use-dependency at 40°C. Our results suggest that fever-induced temperatures exacerbate the gating defects of R859H or R865G mutants and may predispose mutation carriers to febrile seizures.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1085/jgp.201311042DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3840920PMC
December 2013

Atypical vitamin B6 deficiency: a rare cause of unexplained neonatal and infantile epilepsies.

J Child Neurol 2014 May 10;29(5):704-7. Epub 2013 Oct 10.

1Department of Neuropediatrics, University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein, Kiel, Germany.

ALDH7A1 and PNPO deficiencies are rare inborn errors of vitamin B6 metabolism causing perinatal seizure disorders. The phenotypic variability, however, is broad. To assess the frequency of these deficiencies in unexplained infantile epilepsy, we screened 113 patients for mutations in both genes. We identified 1 patient with an epilepsy phenotype resembling Dravet syndrome and likely pathogenic mutations in ALDH7A1. Presenting features were highly atypical of pyridoxine-dependent epilepsy, including febrile seizures, response to anticonvulsive drugs, and periods of seizure freedom without pyridoxine treatment. "Hidden" vitamin B6 deficiencies might be rare but treatable causes of unexplained epilepsy extending beyond the classical phenotypes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0883073813505354DOI Listing
May 2014

Prevalence of SCN1A-related dravet syndrome among children reported with seizures following vaccination: a population-based ten-year cohort study.

PLoS One 2013 6;8(6):e65758. Epub 2013 Jun 6.

Department of Medical Genetics, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Objectives: To determine the prevalence of Dravet syndrome, an epileptic encephalopathy caused by SCN1A-mutations, often with seizure onset after vaccination, among infants reported with seizures following vaccination. To determine differences in characteristics of reported seizures after vaccination in children with and without SCN1A-related Dravet syndrome.

Methods: Data were reviewed of 1,269 children with seizures following immunization in the first two years of life, reported to the safety surveillance system of the Dutch national immunization program between 1 January 1997 and 31 December 2006. Selective, prospective follow-up was performed of children with clinical characteristics compatible with a diagnosis of Dravet syndrome.

Results: In 21.9% (n = 279) of children, a diagnosis of Dravet syndrome could not be excluded based on available clinical data (median age at follow-up 16 months). Additional follow-up data were obtained in 83.9% (n = 234) of these children (median age 8.5 years). 15 (1.2% of 1,269; 95%CI:0.6 to 1.8%) children were diagnosed with SCN1A-related Dravet syndrome. Of all reported seizures following vaccinations in the first year of life, 2.5% (95%CI:1.3 to 3.6%) were due to SCN1A-related Dravet syndrome, as were 5.9% of reported seizures (95%CI:3.1 to 8.7%) after 2(nd) or 3(rd) DTP-IPV-Hib vaccination. Seizures in children with SCN1A-related Dravet syndrome occurred more often with a body temperature below 38.5°C (57.9% vs. 32.6%, p = 0.020) and reoccurred more often after following vaccinations (26.7% vs. 4.0%, p = 0.003), than in children without a diagnosis of SCN1A-related Dravet Syndrome.

Conclusions: Although Dravet syndrome is a rare genetic epilepsy syndrome, 2.5% of reported seizures following vaccinations in the first year of life in our cohort occurred in children with this disorder. Knowledge on the specific characteristics of vaccination-related seizures in this syndrome might promote early diagnosis and indirectly, public faith in vaccination safety.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0065758PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3675088PMC
January 2014

Nav 1.1 dysfunction in genetic epilepsy with febrile seizures-plus or Dravet syndrome.

Eur J Neurosci 2011 Oct 22;34(8):1268-75. Epub 2011 Aug 22.

Division of Biomedical Genetics, Department of Medical Genetics, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Relatively few SCN1A mutations associated with genetic epilepsy with febrile seizures-plus (GEFS+) and Dravet syndrome (DS) have been functionally characterized. In contrast to GEFS+, many mutations detected in DS patients are predicted to have complete loss of function. However, functional consequences are not immediately apparent for DS missense mutations. Therefore, we performed a biophysical analysis of three SCN1A missense mutations (R865G, R946C and R946H) we detected in six patients with DS. Furthermore, we compared the functionality of the R865G DS mutation with that of a R859H mutation detected in a GEFS+ patient; the two mutations reside in the same voltage sensor domain of Na(v) 1.1. The four mutations were co-expressed with β1 and β2 subunits in tsA201 cells, and characterized using the whole-cell patch clamp technique. The two DS mutations, R946C and R946H, were nonfunctional. However, the novel voltage sensor mutants R859H (GEFS+) and R865G (DS) produced sodium current densities similar to those in wild-type channels. Both mutants had negative shifts in the voltage dependence of activation, slower recovery from inactivation, and increased persistent current. Only the GEFS+ mutant exhibited a loss of function in voltage-dependent channel availability. Our results suggest that the R859H mutation causes GEFS+ by a mixture of biophysical defects in Na(v) 1.1 gating. Interestingly, while loss of Na(v) 1.1 function is common in DS, the R865G mutation may cause DS by overall gain-of-function defects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-9568.2011.07826.xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3195841PMC
October 2011

A retrospective population-based study on seizures related to childhood vaccination.

Epilepsia 2011 Aug 21;52(8):1506-12. Epub 2011 Jun 21.

Department of Neuropediatrics, Christian-Albrechts-University Kiel and University Medical Centre Schleswig-Holstein, Kiel, Germany.

Purpose: Cases of severe childhood epilepsies in temporal association with vaccination have great impact on the acceptance of vaccination programs by parents and health care providers. However, little is known about the type and frequency of seizures and epilepsy syndromes following vaccination. This study aims to describe the clinical features of children presenting with seizures after vaccination using a register-based cohort.

Methods: We surveyed the national German database of adverse events following immunization (AEFI) for reported seizures and epilepsies in children aged 0-6 years. All cases reported in 2006-2008 were analyzed retrospectively; available clinical information was reevaluated and classified by seizure type and epilepsy syndrome.

Key Findings: In total, 328 cases reported between 2006 and 2008 were included. Data supportive of seizures or epilepsy were present in 247 (75.3%) of 328 patients with a mean interval between the vaccination and the epileptic event of 24 h and 7.5 days for inactivated and attenuated vaccines, respectively. Fifty-one (15.5%) of 328 patients presented with syncope, hypotonic-hyporesponsive episodes, or other nonepileptic events. Information was insufficient for classification into epileptic versus nonepileptic events in 30 (11.3%) of 328 patients. For cases with confirmed seizures, febrile seizures were present in 121 (49%) of 247 cases, and 38 (15.4%) of 247 patients had single afebrile seizures. Status epilepticus was described in 21 (8.5%) of 247 patients. Thirty-one (12.6%) of 247 patients presented with various pediatric epilepsy syndromes. Severe childhood epilepsies (Dravet syndrome, West syndrome, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, or Doose syndrome) were diagnosed in 29 (11.7%) of 247 patients, with the vaccination-associated event being the first documented seizure in 15 (51.7%) of 29 patients.

Significance: Vaccination-associated seizures present in the setting of various epilepsy syndromes, including severe childhood epilepsies in >10% of cases. Early diagnosis of the corresponding epilepsy syndromes and confirmation of an underlying etiology is important for treatment decisions, genetic counseling, and public health evaluation of vaccine safety.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1528-1167.2011.03134.xDOI Listing
August 2011

Adults with a history of possible Dravet syndrome: an illustration of the importance of analysis of the SCN1A gene.

Epilepsia 2011 Apr 3;52(4):e23-5. Epub 2011 Mar 3.

DBG-Department of Medical Genetics, University Medical Centre Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Most patients with Dravet syndrome have de novo mutations in the neuronal voltage-gated sodium channel type 1 (SCN1A) gene. We report on two unrelated fathers with severe childhood epilepsy compatible with a possible diagnosis of Dravet syndrome, who both have a child with Dravet syndrome. Analysis of the SCN1A gene revealed a pathogenic mutation in both children. One father exhibited somatic mosaicism for the mutation detected in his son. A relatively favorable cognitive outcome in patients with Dravet syndrome patients may be explained by somatic mosaicism for the SCN1A mutation in brain tissue. A mild form of Dravet syndrome in adult patients is associated with a high recurrence risk and possibly a more severe epilepsy phenotype in their offspring.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1528-1167.2011.02982.xDOI Listing
April 2011
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