Publications by authors named "Roberto Michelucci"

106 Publications

Hypoglycemia: The Great Chameleon: A Pseudo-Nonconvulsive Status Epilepticus.

Am J Med 2021 Sep 17. Epub 2021 Sep 17.

IRCCS-Istituto delle Scienze Neurologiche di Bologna, Unit of Neurology, Bellaria Hospital, Italy. Electronic address:

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.amjmed.2021.08.016DOI Listing
September 2021

Results From an Italian Expanded Access Program on Cannabidiol Treatment in Highly Refractory Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome.

Front Neurol 2021 20;12:673135. Epub 2021 May 20.

Pediatric Neurology and Epileptology Unit, Brotzu Hospital Trust, Cagliari, Italy.

Purified cannabidiol (CBD) was administered to highly refractory patients with Dravet (DS) or Lennox-Gastaut (LGS) syndromes in an ongoing expanded access program (EAP). Herein, we report interim results on CBD safety and seizure outcomes in patients treated for a 12-month period. Thirty centers were enrolled from December 2018 to December 2019 within the open-label prospective EAP up to a maximum of 25 mg/kg per day. Adverse effects and liver function tests were assessed after 2 weeks; 1, 3, and 6 months of treatment; and periodically thereafter. Seizure endpoints were the percentage of patients with ≥50 and 100% reduction in seizures compared to baseline. A total of 93 patients were enrolled and included in the safety analysis. Eighty-two patients [27 (32.9%) DS, 55 (67.1%) LGS] with at least 3 months of treatment have been included in the effectiveness analysis; median previously failed antiseizure medications was eight. Pediatric and adult patients were uniformly represented in the cohort. At 3-month follow-up, compared to the 28-day baseline period, the percentage of patients with at least a 50% reduction in seizure frequency was 40.2% (plus 1.2% seizure-free). Retention rate was similar according to diagnosis, while we found an increased number of patients remaining under treatment in the adult group. CBD was mostly coadministered with valproic acid (62.2%) and clobazam (41.5%). In the safety dataset, 29 (31.2%) dropped out: reasons were lack of efficacy [16 (17.2%)] and adverse events (AEs) [12 (12.9%)], and one met withdrawal criteria (1.1%). Most reported AEs were somnolence (22.6%) and diarrhea (11.9%), followed by transaminase elevation and loss of appetite. CBD is associated with improved seizure control also in a considerable proportion of highly refractory patients with DS and LGS independently from clobazam use. Overall, CBD safety and effectiveness are not dose-related in this cohort.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fneur.2021.673135DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8173151PMC
May 2021

Progressive myoclonus epilepsies-Residual unsolved cases have marked genetic heterogeneity including dolichol-dependent protein glycosylation pathway genes.

Am J Hum Genet 2021 04;108(4):722-738

Neurology - Neurophysiology Unit, ASST dei Sette Laghi, Galmarini Tradate Hospital, Tradate 21049, Italy.

Progressive myoclonus epilepsies (PMEs) comprise a group of clinically and genetically heterogeneous rare diseases. Over 70% of PME cases can now be molecularly solved. Known PME genes encode a variety of proteins, many involved in lysosomal and endosomal function. We performed whole-exome sequencing (WES) in 84 (78 unrelated) unsolved PME-affected individuals, with or without additional family members, to discover novel causes. We identified likely disease-causing variants in 24 out of 78 (31%) unrelated individuals, despite previous genetic analyses. The diagnostic yield was significantly higher for individuals studied as trios or families (14/28) versus singletons (10/50) (OR = 3.9, p value = 0.01, Fisher's exact test). The 24 likely solved cases of PME involved 18 genes. First, we found and functionally validated five heterozygous variants in NUS1 and DHDDS and a homozygous variant in ALG10, with no previous disease associations. All three genes are involved in dolichol-dependent protein glycosylation, a pathway not previously implicated in PME. Second, we independently validate SEMA6B as a dominant PME gene in two unrelated individuals. Third, in five families, we identified variants in established PME genes; three with intronic or copy-number changes (CLN6, GBA, NEU1) and two very rare causes (ASAH1, CERS1). Fourth, we found a group of genes usually associated with developmental and epileptic encephalopathies, but here, remarkably, presenting as PME, with or without prior developmental delay. Our systematic analysis of these cases suggests that the small residuum of unsolved cases will most likely be a collection of very rare, genetically heterogeneous etiologies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2021.03.013DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8059372PMC
April 2021

Italian cohort of Lafora disease: Clinical features, disease evolution, and genotype-phenotype correlations.

J Neurol Sci 2021 May 20;424:117409. Epub 2021 Mar 20.

Unit of Medical Genetics, IRCCS Istituto Giannina Gaslini, Genova, Italy; Department of Neurosciences, Rehabilitation, Ophthalmology, Genetics, Maternal and Child Health, Università degli Studi di Genova, Genova, Italy.

Background: Lafora disease (LD) is characterized by progressive myoclonus, refractory epilepsy, and cognitive deterioration. This complex neurodegenerative condition is caused by pathogenic variants in EPM2A/EPM2B genes, encoding two essential glycogen metabolism enzymes known as laforin and malin. Long-term follow-up data are lacking. We describe the clinical features and genetic findings of a cohort of 26 Italian patients with a long clinical follow-up.

Methods: Patients with EPM2A/EPM2B pathogenic variants were identified by direct gene sequencing or gene panels with targeted re-sequencing. Disease progression, motor functions, and mental performance were assessed by a simplified disability scale. Spontaneous/action myoclonus severity was scored by the Magaudda Scale.

Results: Age range was 12.2-46.2 years (mean:25.53 ± 9.14). Age at disease onset ranged from 10 to 22 years (mean:14.04 ± 2.62). The mean follow-up period was 11.48 ± 7.8 years. Twelve out of the 26 (46%) patients preserved walking ability and 13 (50%) maintained speech. A slower disease progression with preserved ambulation and speech after ≥4 years of follow-up was observed in 1 (11%) out of the 9 (35%) EPM2A patients and in 6 (35%) out of the 17 (65%) EPM2B patients. Follow-up was >10 years in 7 (41.2%) EPM2B individuals, including two harbouring the homozygous p.(D146N) pathogenic variant.

Conclusions: This study supports an overall worse disease outcome with severe deterioration of ambulation and speech in patients carrying EPM2A mutations. However, the delayed onset of disabling symptoms observed in the EPM2B subjects harbouring the p.(D146N) pathogenic variant suggests that the underlying causative variant may still influence LD severity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jns.2021.117409DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8166462PMC
May 2021

A survey of the European Reference Network EpiCARE on clinical practice for selected rare epilepsies.

Epilepsia Open 2021 03 13;6(1):160-170. Epub 2021 Jan 13.

IRCCS Mondino Foundation Pavia Italy.

Objective: Clinical care of rare and complex epilepsies is challenging, because evidence-based treatment guidelines are scarce, the experience of many physicians is limited, and interdisciplinary treatment of comorbidities is required. The pathomechanisms of rare epilepsies are, however, increasingly understood, which potentially fosters novel targeted therapies. The objectives of our survey were to obtain an overview of the clinical practice in European tertiary epilepsy centers treating patients with 5 arbitrarily selected rare epilepsies and to get an estimate of potentially available patients for future studies.

Methods: Members of the ( were invited to participate in a web-based survey on clinical practice of patients with Dravet syndrome, tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), autoimmune encephalitis, and progressive myoclonic epilepsies including Unverricht Lundborg and Unverricht-like diseases. A consensus-based questionnaire was generated for each disease.

Results: Twenty-six of 30 invited epilepsy centers participated. Cohorts were present in most responding centers for TSC (87%), Dravet syndrome (85%), and autoimmune encephalitis (71%). Patients with TSC and Dravet syndrome represented the largest cohorts in these centers. The antiseizure drug treatments were rather consistent across the centers especially with regard to Dravet syndrome, infantile spasms in TSC, and Unverricht Lundborg / Unverricht-like disease. Available, widely used targeted therapies included everolimus in TSC and immunosuppressive therapies in autoimmune encephalitis. Screening for comorbidities was routinely done, but specific treatment protocols were lacking in most centers.

Significance: The survey summarizes the current clinical practice for selected rare epilepsies in tertiary European epilepsy centers and demonstrates consistency as well as heterogeneity in the treatment, underscoring the need for controlled trials and recommendations. The survey also provides estimates for potential participants of clinical trials recruited via EpiCARE, emphasizing the great potential of Reference Networks for future studies to evaluate new targeted therapies and to identify novel biomarkers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/epi4.12459DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7918306PMC
March 2021

Fit and faint or faint and fit?

Clin Neurophysiol 2021 01 26;132(1):178-179. Epub 2020 Nov 26.

IRCCS - Institute of Neurological Sciences of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clinph.2020.11.013DOI Listing
January 2021

Encephalopathy in COVID-19 Presenting With Acute Aphasia Mimicking Stroke.

Front Neurol 2020 19;11:587226. Epub 2020 Oct 19.

Department of Biomedical and NeuroMotor Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.

Neurological manifestations are emerging as relatively frequent complications of corona virus disease 2019 (COVID-19), including stroke and encephalopathy. Clinical characteristics of the latter are heterogeneous and not yet fully elucidated, while the pathogenesis appears related to neuroinflammation in a subset of patients. A middle-aged man presented with acute language disturbance at the emergency department. Examination revealed expressive aphasia, mild ideomotor slowing, and severe hypocapnic hypoxemia. Multimodal CT assessment and electroencephalogram (EEG) did not reveal any abnormalities. COVID-19 was diagnosed based on chest CT findings and positive severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) reverse transcription PCR (RT-PCR) on nasopharyngeal swab. The following day, neurological symptoms progressed to agitated delirium and respiratory status worsened, requiring admission to the ICU and mechanical ventilation. Brain MRI and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) studies were unremarkable. RT-PCR for SARS-CoV-2 on CSF was negative. He received supportive treatment and intravenous low-dose steroids. His neurological and respiratory status resolved completely within 2 weeks. We report a patient with reversible COVID-19-related encephalopathy presenting as acute aphasia, mimicking stroke or status epilepticus, eventually evolving into delirium. Although large-vessel stroke is frequently encountered in COVID-19, our case suggests that focal neurological deficits may occur as the earliest feature of encephalopathy. Neurological status reversibility and the absence of abnormalities on brain MRI are consistent with a functional rather than a structural neuronal network impairment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fneur.2020.587226DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7604480PMC
October 2020

Intravenous immunoglobulin therapy in COVID-19-related encephalopathy.

J Neurol 2021 Aug 8;268(8):2671-2675. Epub 2020 Oct 8.

Department of Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences, University of Bologna, Bellaria Hospital, Via Altura 3 40139, Bologna, Italy.

Objective: To report on efficacy and safety of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) therapy in a case series of patients with COVID-19-related encephalopathy.

Methods: We retrospectively collected data on all patients with COVID-19 hospitalized at two Italian hospitals who developed encephalopathy during disease course and were treated with IVIg.

Results: Five patients (two females, mean age 66.8 years) developed encephalopathy after a mean of 12.6 days, since the onset of respiratory/constitutional symptoms related to COVID-19. Four patients suffered severe respiratory distress, three of which required invasive mechanical ventilation. Neurological manifestations included impaired consciousness, agitation, delirium, pyramidal and extrapyramidal signs. EEG demonstrated diffuse slowing in all patients. Brain MRI showed non-specific findings. CSF analysis revealed normal cell count and protein levels. In all subjects, RT-PCR for SARS-CoV-2 in CSF tested negative. IVIg at 0.4 g/kg/die was commenced 29.8 days (mean, range: 19-55 days) after encephalopathy onset, leading to complete electroclinical recovery in all patients, with an initial improvement of neuropsychiatric symptoms observed in 3.4 days (mean, range: 1-10 days). No adverse events related to IVIg were observed.

Conclusions: Our preliminary findings suggest that IVIg may represent a safe and effective treatment for COVID-19-associated encephalopathy. Clinical efficacy may be driven by the anti-inflammatory action of IVIg, associated with its anti-cytokine qualities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00415-020-10248-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7543032PMC
August 2021

Long-term persistence of NMDAR antibodies after encephalitis with de novo occurrence of demyelinating disorder.

Neurol Sci 2021 Jan 28;42(1):301-303. Epub 2020 Sep 28.

IRCCS Istituto delle Scienze Neurologiche di Bologna, Unit of Neurology, Bellaria Hospital, Bologna, Italy.

The issue of persistence of NMDAR antibodies after encephalitis is not fully elucidated and their relationship with demyelinating disorders has been suggested. A female patient showed at the age of 18 an acute neurological disorder (with psychiatric symptoms, focal seizures, orofacial dyskinesias and hypoventilation requiring ventilatory support) clinically mimicking anti-NMDAR encephalitis. At that time specific laboratory tests were not available, CSF revealed oligoclonal bands and MRI was negative. The patient had full recovery after first line immunotherapy (i.v. steroids and immunoglobulins). Fifteen years later, at the age of 33, she was hospitalized with subacute right hemiparesis and MRI disclosed multiple T2 hyperintensities in the white matter, one of them in the left midbrain showing contrast enhancement. Serum and CSF NMDAR antibodies were positive while MOG and AQP4 antibodies were negative. Intravenous methylprednisolone led to complete recovery. This case report provides evidence of a long-term persistence of NMDAR antibodies even 15 years after the encephalitis and raises the suspicion of a possible causal relationship between NMDAR antibodies and demyelinating disorders in the form of multiple sclerosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10072-020-04729-3DOI Listing
January 2021

EEG findings in COVID-19 related encephalopathy.

Clin Neurophysiol 2020 09 18;131(9):2265-2267. Epub 2020 Jul 18.

IRCCS - Istituto delle Scienze Neurologiche di Bologna, Bologna, Italy.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clinph.2020.07.003DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7367805PMC
September 2020

Autosomal dominant lateral temporal lobe epilepsy associated with a novel reelin mutation.

Epileptic Disord 2020 Aug;22(4):443-448

CNR-Neuroscience Institute, Section of Padua, Padova, Italy, Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Padua, Padova, Italy.

Reelin mutations are responsible for a minority of families with autosomal dominant lateral temporal lobe epilepsy. Here, we report a novel nuclear family with distinct clinical and neuroradiological findings. We studied the proband and her mother by means of EEG, video-EEG, 3T MRI, FDG-PET and genetic testing. Both patients had a focal drug-resistant epilepsy with onset at the age of 16 and focal seizures with typical auditory features combined with fear, followed by loss of contact or evolving to bilateral tonic-clonic seizures. The proband's ictal EEG showed clear left temporal seizure onset, and cerebral MRI revealed subtle left temporal changes (mild hypotrophy, slight blurring of the white and grey matter and hyperintensity) with corresponding left temporal mesial focal hypometabolism on FDG-PET. Genetic testing identified a missense variant, c.6631C>T (p.Arg2211Cys), in reelin repeat #5 in both patients, which markedly affected the secretion of the protein. The data from this family support previous findings indicating that reelin mutations are a cause of autosomal dominant lateral temporal lobe epilepsy which has a clinical spectrum that may also encompass drug-resistant epilepsy associated with mild MRI temporal changes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1684/epd.2020.1176DOI Listing
August 2020

Electroencephalography during SARS-CoV-2 outbreak: practical recommendations from the task force of the Italian Society of Neurophysiology (SINC), the Italian League Against Epilepsy (LICE), and the Italian Association of Neurophysiology Technologists (AITN).

Neurol Sci 2020 Sep 21;41(9):2345-2351. Epub 2020 Jul 21.

Department of Human Neurosciencies, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy.

Background: During COVID-19 lockdown, non-urgent medical procedures were suspended. Grade of urgency of electroencephalography (EEG) may vary according to the clinical indication, setting, and status of infection of SARS-CoV-2 virus. "Italian Society of Clinical Neurophysiology" (SINC), "Italian League Against Epilepsy" (LICE), and the "Italian Association of Neurophysiology Technologists" (AITN) aimed to provide clinical and technical recommendation for EEG indications and recording standards in this pandemic era.

Methods: Presidents of SINC, LICE, and AITN endorsed three members per each society to formulate recommendations: classification of the degree of urgency of EEG clinical indications, management and behavior of physicians and neurophysiology technologists, hygiene and personal protection standards, and use of technical equipment.

Results: Scientific societies endorsed a paper conveying the recommendation for EEG execution in accordance with clinical urgency, setting (inpatients/outpatients), status of SARS-CoV-2 virus infection (positive, negative and uncertain), and phase of governmental restrictions (phase 1 and 2). Briefly, in phase 1, EEG was recommended only for those acute/subacute neurological symptoms where EEG is necessary for diagnosis, prognosis, or therapy. Outpatient examinations should be avoided in phase 1, while they should be recommended in urgent cases in phase 2 when they could prevent an emergency room access. Reduction of staff contacts must be encouraged through rescheduling job shifts. The use of disposable electrodes and dedicated EEG devices for COVID-19-positive patients are recommended.

Conclusions: During the different phases of COVID-19 pandemic, the EEG should be reserved for patients really benefiting from its execution in terms of diagnosis, treatment, prognosis, and avoidance of emergency room access.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10072-020-04585-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7371961PMC
September 2020

Antidepressant effect of vagal nerve stimulation in epilepsy patients: a systematic review.

Neurol Sci 2020 Nov 10;41(11):3075-3084. Epub 2020 Jun 10.

Institute of Neurology, University Magna Graecia, Germaneto (CZ), Italy.

Background: Vagal nerve stimulation (VNS) is an effective palliative therapy in drug-resistant epileptic patients and is also approved as a therapy for treatment-resistant depression. Depression is a frequent comorbidity in epilepsy and it affects the quality of life of patients more than the seizure frequency itself. The aim of this systematic review is to analyze the available literature about the VNS effect on depressive symptoms in epileptic patients.

Material And Methods: A comprehensive search of PubMed, Medline, Scopus, and Google Scholar was performed, and results were included up to January 2020. All studies concerning depressive symptom assessment in epileptic patients treated with VNS were included.

Results: Nine studies were included because they fulfilled inclusion criteria. Six out of nine papers reported a positive effect of VNS on depressive symptoms. Eight out of nine studies did not find any correlation between seizure reduction and depressive symptom amelioration, as induced by VNS. Clinical scales for depression, drug regimens, and age of patients were broadly different among the examined studies.

Conclusions: Reviewed studies strongly suggest that VNS ameliorates depressive symptoms in drug-resistant epileptic patients and that the VNS effect on depression is uncorrelated to seizure response. However, more rigorous studies addressing this issue are encouraged.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10072-020-04479-2DOI Listing
November 2020

An unusual case of anti-basal ganglia encephalitis showing polyradiculoneuritis features.

Neurol Sci 2020 Oct 24;41(10):2981-2983. Epub 2020 Apr 24.

Neurology Unit, Bellaria Hospital, IRCCS Istituto delle Scienze Neurologiche di Bologna, Bologna, Italy.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10072-020-04423-4DOI Listing
October 2020

Reply to Dr. Capovilla on "Reply to the article "Management of status epilepticus in adults. Position paper of the Italian League Against Epilepsy"".

Epilepsy Behav 2020 06 6;107:107048. Epub 2020 Apr 6.

IRCCS Istituto delle Scienze Neurologiche, Bellaria Hospital, Bologna, Italy; Department of Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences, University of Bologna, Italy.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.yebeh.2020.107048DOI Listing
June 2020

Advances in genetic testing and optimization of clinical management in children and adults with epilepsy.

Expert Rev Neurother 2020 03 27;20(3):251-269. Epub 2020 Jan 27.

Pediatric Neurology and Muscular Diseases Unit, IRCCS Istituto Giannina Gaslini, Genoa, Italy.

: Epileptic disorders are a heterogeneous group of medical conditions with epilepsy as the common denominator. Genetic causes, electro-clinical features, and management significantly vary according to the specific condition.: Relevant diagnostic advances have been achieved thanks to the advent of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS)-based molecular techniques. These revolutionary tools allow to sequence all coding (whole exome sequencing, WES) and non-coding (whole genome sequencing, WGS) regions of human genome, with a potentially huge impact on patient care and scientific research.: The application of these tests in children and adults with epilepsy has led to the identification of new causative genes, widening the knowledge on the pathophysiology of epilepsy and resulting in therapeutic implications. This review will explore the most recent advancements in genetic testing and provide up-to-date approaches for the choice of the correct test in patients with epilepsy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14737175.2020.1713101DOI Listing
March 2020

The 5th International Lafora Epilepsy Workshop: Basic science elucidating therapeutic options and preparing for therapies in the clinic.

Epilepsy Behav 2020 02 10;103(Pt A):106839. Epub 2020 Jan 10.

Lafora Epilepsy Cure Initiative (LECI), USA; Laboratory of Neurology, IIS-Jimenez Diaz Foundation, UAM, 28045 Madrid, Spain; Biomedical Research Networking Center on Rare Diseases (CIBERER), 28029 Madrid, Spain.

Lafora disease (LD) is both a fatal childhood epilepsy and a glycogen storage disease caused by recessive mutations in either the Epilepsy progressive myoclonus 2A (EPM2A) or EPM2B genes. Hallmarks of LD are aberrant, cytoplasmic carbohydrate aggregates called Lafora bodies (LBs) that are a disease driver. The 5th International Lafora Epilepsy Workshop was recently held in Alcala de Henares, Spain. The workshop brought together nearly 100 clinicians, academic and industry scientists, trainees, National Institutes of Health (NIH) representation, and friends and family members of patients with LD. The workshop covered aspects of LD ranging from defining basic scientific mechanisms to elucidating a LD therapy or cure and a recently launched LD natural history study.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.yebeh.2019.106839DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7024738PMC
February 2020

FDG-PET assessment and metabolic patterns in Lafora disease.

Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging 2020 06 19;47(6):1576-1584. Epub 2019 Dec 19.

Department of Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.

Purpose: To describe cerebral glucose metabolism pattern as assessed by F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) in Lafora disease (LD), a rare, lethal form of progressive myoclonus epilepsy caused by biallelic mutations in EPM2A or NHLRC1.

Methods: We retrospectively included patients with genetically confirmed LD who underwent FDG-PET scan referred to three Italian epilepsy centers. FDG-PET images were evaluated both visually and using SPM12 software. Subgroup analysis was performed on the basis of genetic and clinical features employing SPM. Moreover, we performed a systematic literature review of LD cases that underwent FDG-PET assessment.

Results: Eight Italian patients (3M/5F, 3 EPM2A/5 NHLRC1) underwent FDG-PET examination after a mean of 6 years from disease onset (range 1-12 years). All patients showed bilateral hypometabolic areas, more diffuse and pronounced in advanced disease stages. Most frequently, the hypometabolic regions were the temporal (8/8), parietal (7/8), and frontal lobes (7/8), as well as the thalamus (6/8). In three cases, the FDG-PET repeated after a mean of 17 months (range 7-36 months) showed a metabolic worsening compared with the baseline examination. The SPM subgroup analysis found no significant differences based on genetics, whereas it showed a more significant temporoparietal hypometabolism in patients with visual symptoms compared with those without. In nine additional cases identified from eight publications, FDG-PET showed heterogeneous findings, ranging from diffusely decreased cerebral glucose metabolism to unremarkable examinations in two cases.

Conclusions: FDG-PET seems highly sensitive to evaluate LD at any stage and may correlate with disease progression. Areas of decreased glucose metabolism in LD are extensive, often involving multiple cortical and subcortical regions, with thalamus, temporal, frontal, and parietal lobes being the most severely affected. Prospective longitudinal collaborative studies are needed to validate our findings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00259-019-04647-3DOI Listing
June 2020

Management of status epilepticus in adults. Position paper of the Italian League against Epilepsy.

Epilepsy Behav 2020 01 22;102:106675. Epub 2019 Nov 22.

IRCCS Istituto delle Scienze Neurologiche, Bellaria Hospital, Bologna, Italy; Department of Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences, University of Bologna, Italy. Electronic address:

Since the publication of the Italian League Against Epilepsy guidelines for the treatment of status epilepticus in 2006, advances in the field have ushered in improvements in the therapeutic arsenal. The present position paper provides neurologists, epileptologists, neurointensive care specialists, and emergency physicians with updated recommendations for the treatment of adult patients with status epilepticus. The aim is to standardize treatment recommendations in the care of this patient population.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.yebeh.2019.106675DOI Listing
January 2020

The best evidence for progressive myoclonic epilepsy: A pathway to precision therapy.

Seizure 2019 Oct 23;71:247-257. Epub 2019 Aug 23.

Pediatric Neurology and Muscular Diseases Unit, IRCCS Istituto 'G. Gaslini', Italy; Department of Neurosciences, Rehabilitation, Ophthalmology, Genetics, Maternal and Child Health, University of Genova, Genova, Italy.

Progressive Myoclonus Epilepsies (PMEs) are a group of uncommon clinically and genetically heterogeneous disorders characterised by myoclonus, generalized epilepsy, and neurological deterioration, including dementia and ataxia. PMEs may have infancy, childhood, juvenile or adult onset, but usually present in late childhood or adolescence, at variance from epileptic encephalopathies, which start with polymorphic seizures in early infancy. Neurophysiologic recordings are suited to describe faithfully the time course of the shock-like muscle contractions which characterize myoclonus. A combination of positive and negative myoclonus is typical of PMEs. The gene defects for most PMEs (Unverricht-Lundborg disease, Lafora disease, several forms of neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses, myoclonus epilepsy with ragged-red fibers [MERRF], and type 1 and 2 sialidoses) have been identified. PMEs are uncommon disorders, difficult to diagnose in the absence of extensive experience. Thus, aetiology is undetermined in many patients, despite the advance in molecular medicine. Treatment of PMEs remains essentially symptomaticof seizures and myoclonus, together with palliative, supportive, and rehabilitative measures. The response to therapy may initially be relatively favourable, afterwards however, seizures may become more frequent, and progressive neurologic decline occurs. The prognosis of a PME depends on the specific disease. The history of PMEs revealed that the international collaboration and sharing experience is the right way to proceed. This emerging picture and biological insights will allow us to find ways to provide the patients with meaningful treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.seizure.2019.08.012DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7288863PMC
October 2019

An Italian multicentre study of perampanel in progressive myoclonus epilepsies.

Epilepsy Res 2019 10 16;156:106191. Epub 2019 Aug 16.

Neurophysiopathology, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Neurologico Carlo Besta, Milan, Italy. Electronic address:

Perampanel (PER) is a novel anti-seizure medication useful in different types of epilepsy. We intended to assess the effectiveness of PER on cortical myoclonus and seizure frequency in patients with progressive myoclonus epilepsy (PME), using quantitative validated scales. Forty-nine patients aged 36.6 ± 15.6 years with PME of various aetiology (18 EPM1, 12 EPM2, five with sialidosis, one with Kufs disease, one with EPM7, and 12 undetermined) were enrolled between January 2017 and June 2018. PER at the dose of 2-12 mg (5.3 ± 2.5) was added to existing therapy. Myoclonus severity was assessed using a minimal myoclonus scale (MMS) in all the patients before and after 4-6 months of steady PER dose, and by means of the Unified Myoclonus Rating Scale (UMRS) in 20 patients. Logistic regression analysis was used to identify the factors potentially predicting treatment efficacy. Four patients dropped out in the first two months due to psychiatric side effects. In the remaining patients, PER reduced myoclonus severity as assessed using MMS (Wilcoxon test: p < 0.001) and UMRS (p < 0.001), with the 'Action myoclonus' section of the UMRS showing the greatest improvement. The patients with EPM1 or EPM1-like phenotype were more likely to improve with PER (p = 0.011). Convulsive seizures which have recurred at least monthly in 17 patients were reduced by >50%. Side effects occurred in 22/49 (44.8%) patients, the most common being irritability followed by drowsiness. PER is effective in treating myoclonus and seizures in PME patients. The frequency of psychiatric side effects suggests the need for careful patient monitoring.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.eplepsyres.2019.106191DOI Listing
October 2019

Management of epilepsy in brain tumors.

Neurol Sci 2019 Oct 7;40(10):2217-2234. Epub 2019 Aug 7.

Neurophysiology Unit, Department of Neurology-University "La Sapienza", S. Andrea Hospital, Rome, Italy.

Epilepsy in brain tumors (BTE) may require medical attention for a variety of unique concerns: epileptic seizures, possible serious adverse effects of antineoplastic and antiepileptic drugs (AEDs), physical disability, and/or neurocognitive disturbances correlated to tumor site. Guidelines for the management of tumor-related epilepsies are lacking. Treatment is not standardized, and overall management might differ according to different specialists. The aim of this document was to provide directives on the procedures to be adopted for a correct diagnostic-therapeutic path of the patient with BTE, evaluating indications, risks, and benefits. A board comprising neurologists, epileptologists, neurophysiologists, neuroradiologists, neurosurgeons, neuro-oncologists, neuropsychologists, and patients' representatives was formed. The board converted diagnostic and therapeutic problems into seventeen questions. A literature search was performed in September-October 2017, and a total of 7827 unique records were retrieved, of which 148 constituted the core literature. There is no evidence that histological type or localization of the brain tumor affects the response to an AED. The board recommended to avoid enzyme-inducing antiepileptic drugs because of their interference with antitumoral drugs and consider as first-choice newer generation drugs (among them, levetiracetam, lamotrigine, and topiramate). Valproic acid should also be considered. Both short-term and long-term prophylaxes are not recommended in primary and metastatic brain tumors. Management of seizures in patients with BTE should be multidisciplinary. The panel evidenced conflicting or lacking data regarding the role of EEG, the choice of therapeutic strategy, and timing to withdraw AEDs and recommended high-quality long-term studies to standardize BTE care.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10072-019-04025-9DOI Listing
October 2019

Treatment with metformin in twelve patients with Lafora disease.

Orphanet J Rare Dis 2019 06 21;14(1):149. Epub 2019 Jun 21.

IRCCS Istituto delle Scienze Neurologiche di Bologna, Ospedale Bellaria, Bologna, Italy.

Background: Lafora disease (LD) is a rare, lethal, progressive myoclonus epilepsy for which no targeted therapy is currently available. Studies on a mouse model of LD showed a good response to metformin, a drug with a well known neuroprotective effect. For this reason, in 2016, the European Medicines Agency granted orphan designation to metformin for the treatment of LD. However, no clinical data is available thus far.

Methods: We retrospectively collected data on LD patients treated with metformin referred to three Italian epilepsy centres.

Results: Twelve patients with genetically confirmed LD (6 EPM2A, 6 NHLRC1) at middle/late stages of disease were treated with add-on metformin for a mean period of 18 months (range: 6-36). Metformin was titrated to a mean maintenance dose of 1167 mg/day (range: 500-2000 mg). In four patients dosing was limited by gastrointestinal side-effects. No serious adverse events occurred. Three patients had a clinical response, which was temporary in two, characterized by a reduction of seizure frequency and global clinical improvement.

Conclusions: Metformin was overall safe in our small cohort of LD patients. Even though the clinical outcome was poor, this may be related to the advanced stage of disease in our cases and we cannot exclude a role of metformin in slowing down LD progression. Therefore, on the grounds of the preclinical data, we believe that treatment with metformin may be attempted as early as possible in the course of LD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13023-019-1132-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6588886PMC
June 2019

Hypertension, seizures, and epilepsy: a review on pathophysiology and management.

Neurol Sci 2019 Sep 4;40(9):1775-1783. Epub 2019 May 4.

Medical and Surgical Sciences Department, School of Medicine, Magna Græcia University of Catanzaro, Viale Europa, Catanzaro, Italy.

Background: Epilepsy and hypertension are common chronic conditions, both showing high prevalence in older age groups. This review outlines current experimental and clinical evidence on both direct and indirect role of hypertension in epileptogenesis and discusses the principles of drug treatment in patients with hypertension and epilepsy.

Methods: We selected English-written articles on epilepsy, hypertension, stroke, and cerebrovascular disease until December, 2018.

Results: Renin-angiotensin system might play a central role in the direct interaction between hypertension and epilepsy, but other mechanisms may be contemplated. Large-artery stroke, small vessel disease and posterior reversible leukoencephalopathy syndrome are hypertension-related brain lesions able to determine epilepsy by indirect mechanisms. The role of hypertension as an independent risk factor for post-stroke epilepsy has not been demonstrated. The role of hypertension-related small vessel disease in adult-onset epilepsy has been demonstrated. Posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome is an acute condition, often caused by a hypertensive crisis, associated with the occurrence of acute symptomatic seizures. Chronic antiepileptic treatment should consider the risk of drug-drug interactions with antihypertensives.

Conclusions: Current evidence from preclinical and clinical studies supports the vision that hypertension may be a cause of seizures and epilepsy through direct or indirect mechanisms. In both post-stroke epilepsy and small vessel disease-associated epilepsy, chronic antiepileptic treatment is recommended. In posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome blood pressure must be rapidly lowered and prompt antiepileptic treatment should be initiated.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10072-019-03913-4DOI Listing
September 2019

Validated outcome of treatment changes according to International League Against Epilepsy criteria in adults with drug-resistant focal epilepsy.

Epilepsia 2019 06 13;60(6):1114-1123. Epub 2019 Mar 13.

Clinical Pharmacology Unit, Department of Internal Medicine and Therapeutics, University of Pavia and Clinical Trial Center, IRCCS Mondino Foundation, Pavia, Italy.

Objective: Although many studies have attempted to describe treatment outcomes in patients with drug-resistant epilepsy, results are often limited by the adoption of nonhomogeneous criteria and different definitions of seizure freedom. We sought to evaluate treatment outcomes with a newly administered antiepileptic drug (AED) in a large population of adults with drug-resistant focal epilepsy according to the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) outcome criteria.

Methods: This is a multicenter, observational, prospective study of 1053 patients with focal epilepsy diagnosed as drug-resistant by the investigators. Patients were assessed at baseline and 6, 12, and 18 months, for up to a maximum of 34 months after introducing another AED into their treatment regimen. Drug resistance status and treatment outcomes were rated according to ILAE criteria by the investigators and by at least two independent members of an external expert panel (EP).

Results: A seizure-free outcome after a newly administered AED according to ILAE criteria ranged from 11.8% after two failed drugs to 2.6% for more than six failures. Significantly fewer patients were rated by the EP as having a "treatment failure" as compared to the judgment of the investigator (46.7% vs 62.9%, P < 0.001), because many more patients were rated as "undetermined outcome" (45.6% vs 27.7%, P < 0.001); 19.3% of the recruited patients were not considered drug-resistant by the EP.

Significance: This study validates the use of ILAE treatment outcome criteria in a real-life setting, providing validated estimates of seizure freedom in patients with drug-resistant focal epilepsy in relation to the number of previously failed AEDs. Fewer than one in 10 patients achieved seizure freedom on a newly introduced AED over the study period. Pseudo drug resistance could be identified in one of five cases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/epi.14685DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6850288PMC
June 2019

Fear-specific enhancement of tactile perception is disrupted after amygdala lesion.

J Neuropsychol 2020 03 4;14(1):165-182. Epub 2019 Feb 4.

Center for Studies and Research in Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Bologna, Italy.

Tactile perception on one's own face is enhanced when viewing a fearful face being touched - as opposed to just approached - by fingers, compared to viewing other expressions, a phenomenon known as the emotional modulation of Visual Remapping of Touch (eVRT). This effect seems to be related to a preferential activation of the somatosensory system in response to threat. To test the contribution of the amygdala to this mechanism, a group of patients with unilateral lesions to the amygdala, a control group of patients with lesions in the extra-temporal regions, and a group of healthy participants completed an eVRT paradigm. They were required to detect bilateral tactile stimulation on their own cheeks, while viewing fearful, happy, or neutral faces being touched or just approached by fingers. Healthy participants and control patients confirmed that viewing a neutral face being touched - as opposed to just approached - by fingers increases tactile detection on one's own face (i.e., the typical VRT effect) and that this effect is enhanced for fearful faces, compared to neutral and happy faces. However, in patients with amygdala lesion, although the standard VRT effect was preserved for neutral faces, this was disrupted for fearful faces. This result indicates that the preferential activation of the somatosensory cortices in response to threat relies on structural integrity of the amygdala.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jnp.12178DOI Listing
March 2020

Ictal cardiorespiratory depression: a real risk for sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP)?

BMJ Case Rep 2018 Aug 23;2018. Epub 2018 Aug 23.

IRCCS Instituto delle Scienze Neurologiche di Bologna, UOC Neurologia Ospedale Bellaria, Bologna, Italia.

A 61-year-old woman affected by nocturnal hypermotor seizures since the age of 2 years complained of epigastric discomfort and chocking sensation before seizure onset for the last 25 years. Telemetry unit monitoring revealed several focal seizures with left frontotemporal onset complicated with ictal asystole and apnoea. After pacemaker (PM) implantation, video-EEG monitoring coupled with extensive respiratory montage confirmed the presence of ictal central apnoea. Despite this huge ictal autonomic imbalance which is claimed to be a risk factor for sudden unexpected death in epilepsy, the patient had a 25-year history of similar seizures, questioning the need to perform PM implantation and assisted ventilation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bcr-2018-225238DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6109728PMC
August 2018

LGI1 tumor tissue expression and serum autoantibodies in patients with primary malignant glioma.

Clin Neurol Neurosurg 2018 07 14;170:27-33. Epub 2018 Apr 14.

CNR-Neuroscience Institute, Section of Padua, Viale G. Colombo 3, 35121 Padova, Italy; Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Padua, Padova, Italy. Electronic address:

Objectives: The Leucine-rich glioma inactivated 1 (LGI1) protein is thought to be implicated in malignant progression of glioma tumors, and mutations in the encoding gene, LGI1, cause autosomal dominant lateral temporal epilepsy, a genetic focal epilepsy syndrome. The aim of this study was to investigate the possible involvement of LGI1 in high-grade glioma-associated epilepsy by analyzing its expression in tumor specimens of patients with and without epilepsy and by searching for LGI1 autoantibodies in the sera these patients.

Patients And Methods: We examined tumor tissue samples from 24 patients with high-grade gliomas (12 with and 12 without epilepsy) by immunoblot and detected variable amounts of LGI1 in tumor tissues from 9/24 (37%) patients.

Results: LGI1 was detected in 7/12 (58%) patients with epilepsy and in 2/12 (16%) patients without epilepsy (p = 0.0894; Fisher's exact test). Moreover, testing blood sera of five patients for antibodies against LGI1 revealed LGI1 autoantibodies in two patients, both suffering from epilepsy and expressing LGI1 in tumor tissue.

Conclusion: Our findings suggest that there may be a preferential expression of LGI1 in high-grade glioma tumors of patients with epilepsy. We also unveil the presence of serum LGI1 autoantibodies in some patients with high-grade gliomas, where they might play an epileptogenic role.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clineuro.2018.04.010DOI Listing
July 2018

Mutations in MICAL-1cause autosomal-dominant lateral temporal epilepsy.

Ann Neurol 2018 03 13;83(3):483-493. Epub 2018 Mar 13.

CNR-Neuroscience Institute, Section of Padua, Padova, Italy.

Objective: Autosomal-dominant lateral temporal epilepsy (ADLTE) is a genetic focal epilepsy characterized by auditory symptoms. Two genes, LGI1 and RELN, encoding secreted proteins, are implicated in the etiology of ADLTE, but half of the affected families remain genetically unsolved, and the underlying molecular mechanisms are yet to be clarified. We aimed to identify additional genes causing ADLTE to better understand the genetic basis and molecular pathway underlying this epileptic disorder.

Methods: A cohort of Italian ADLTE families was examined by whole exome sequencing combined with genome-wide single-nucleotide polymorphism-array linkage analysis.

Results: We identified two ADLTE-causing variants in the MICAL-1 gene: a p.Gly150Ser substitution occurring in the enzymatically active monooxygenase (MO) domain and a p.Ala1065fs frameshift indel in the C-terminal domain, which inhibits the oxidoreductase activity of the MO domain. Each variant segregated with ADLTE in a single family. Examination of candidate variants in additional genes excluded their implication in ADLTE. In cell-based assays, both variants significantly increased MICAL-1 oxidoreductase activity and induced cell contraction in COS7 cells, which likely resulted from deregulation of F-actin dynamics.

Interpretation: MICAL-1 oxidoreductase activity induces disassembly of actin filaments, thereby regulating the organization of the actin cytoskeleton in developing and adult neurons and in other cell types. This suggests that dysregulation of the actin cytoskeleton dynamics is a likely mechanism by which MICAL-1 pathogenic variants lead to ADLTE. Ann Neurol 2018;83:483-493.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ana.25167DOI Listing
March 2018
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