Publications by authors named "Simona Orcesi"

97 Publications

Case Report: The JAK-Inhibitor Ruxolitinib Use in Aicardi-Goutieres Syndrome Due to Mutation.

Front Pediatr 2021 27;9:725868. Epub 2021 Oct 27.

Pediatrics Clinic, Azienda Socio Sanitaria Territoriale Spedali Civili di Brescia, Brescia, Italy.

Type I Interferonopathies comprise inherited inflammatory diseases associated with perturbation of the type I IFN response. Use of kinase (JAK) inhibitors has been recently reported as possible tools for treating some of those rare diseases. We describe herein the clinical picture and treatment response to the JAK-inhibitor ruxolitinib in a 5-year-old girl affected by Aicardi-Goutières Syndrome type 6 (AGS6) due to mutation. The girl's interferon score (IS) was compared with that of her older brother, suffering from the same disorder, who was not treated. We observed a limited, but distinct neurological improvement (Gross Motor Function and Griffiths Mental Development Scales). Analysis of IS values of the two siblings during the treatment showed several changes, especially related to infections; the IS values of the child treated with ruxolitinib were consistently lower than those measured in her brother. Based on these observations we suggest that the use of ruxolitinib in children with the same condition might be effective in inhibiting type I interferon response and that starting this therapy at early age in children with AGS could mitigate the detrimental effects of type I interferon hyperproduction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fped.2021.725868DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8578119PMC
October 2021

Depression and Anxiety in Mothers Who Were Pregnant During the COVID-19 Outbreak in Northern Italy: The Role of Pandemic-Related Emotional Stress and Perceived Social Support.

Front Psychiatry 2021 3;12:716488. Epub 2021 Sep 3.

Child Neurology and Psychiatry Unit, IRCCS Mondino Foundation, Pavia, Italy.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a collective trauma that is threatening citizens' mental health resulting in increased emotional stress, reduced social support, and heightened risk for affective symptoms. The present study aimed to investigate the effects of antenatal pandemic-related emotional stress and perceived social support on the symptoms of depression and anxiety of mothers who were pregnant during the initial COVID-19 outbreak in northern Italy. A sample of 281 mothers was enrolled at eight maternity units in the first hotspot region of the COVID-19 outbreak in northern Italy. Participants filled out online questionnaires assessing the direct or indirect exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, pandemic-related stress, perceived social support, as well as symptoms of depression and anxiety. Depressive and anxious symptomatology was above clinical concern, respectively, in 26 and 32% of the respondents. Mothers who reported no exposure to SARS-CoV-2 during pregnancy and those who reported at least one direct or indirect exposure did not differ in terms of affective symptoms. Continuous scores and risk for severe depression and anxiety were positively associated with prenatal pandemic-related emotional stress and negatively linked with perceived social support during pregnancy. Women who become mothers during the COVID-19 emergency may be at high risk for affective problems. Dedicated preventive programs are needed to provide adequate preventive support and care for maternal mental health during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.716488DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8446509PMC
September 2021

How to look for intracranial calcification in children with neurological disorders: CT, MRI, or both of them?

Neurol Sci 2021 Aug 12. Epub 2021 Aug 12.

Neuroradiology Unit, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Neurologico Carlo Besta, Milan, Italy.

Background: Intracranial calcification (ICC) is an important diagnostic clue in pediatric neurology. Considering the radiation-induced cancer risk associated with computed tomography (CT), we aim to define the diagnostic value of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) sequences sensitive to paramagnetic/diamagnetic substances in the detection of ICC, comparing with CT scanning.

Materials And Methods: We selected MRI and CT scans performed in children affected by neurological conditions associated with ICC referred to the participating centers between 2005 and 2018. Inclusion criteria were age at neuroradiological investigation < 18 years, availability of good quality CT positive for calcification, and MRI scan that included GE or/and SWI sequences, performed no more than 6 months apart.

Results: Eighty-one patients were included in the study. CT and MRI scans were reviewed by consensus. MRI failed to detect ICC in 14% of the cases. Susceptibility-weighted imaging (SWI) was the best MRI sequence to use in this setting, followed by gradient echo imaging. In 19% of the cases, CT could have been avoided because the identification or monitoring of ICC has not been necessary for the clinical management of the patient.

Conclusion: In the diagnostic workup of pediatric-onset neurological disorders of unknown cause, the first step to look for ICC should be an MRI that includes SWI and GE sequences. If ICC is absent on MRI, brain CT scanning should be performed at least once. When the identification or monitoring of ICC is unlikely to add information useful for patient's follow-up or treatment, we recommend not performing CT scanning.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10072-021-05510-wDOI Listing
August 2021

Neurodevelopmental outcome of preterm very low birth weight infants admitted to an Italian tertiary center over an 11-year period.

Sci Rep 2021 08 11;11(1):16316. Epub 2021 Aug 11.

Child Neurology and Psychiatry Unit, Department of Brain and Behavioural Sciences, University of Pavia, 27100, Pavia, Italy.

Preterm very low birth weight infants (VLBWi) are known to be at greater risk of adverse neurodevelopmental outcome. Identifying early factors associated with outcome is essential in order to refer patients for early intervention. Few studies have investigated neurodevelopmental outcome in Italian VLBWi. The aim of our longitudinal study is to describe neurodevelopmental outcome at 24 months of corrected age in an eleven-year cohort of 502 Italian preterm VLBWi and to identify associations with outcome. At 24 months, Griffiths' Mental Developmental Scales were administered. Neurodevelopmental outcome was classified as: normal, minor sequelae (minor neurological signs, General Quotient between 76 and 87), major sequelae (cerebral palsy; General Quotient ≤ 75; severe sensory impairment). 75.3% showed a normal outcome, 13.9% minor sequelae and 10.8% major sequelae (3.8% cerebral palsy). Male gender, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, abnormal neonatal neurological assessment and severe brain ultrasound abnormalities were independently associated with poor outcome on multivariate ordered logistic regression. Rates of major sequelae are in line with international studies, as is the prevalence of developmental delay over cerebral palsy. Analysis of perinatal complications and the combination of close cUS monitoring and neurological assessment are still essential for early identification of infants with adverse outcome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-95864-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8357917PMC
August 2021

haploinsufficiency causes periventricular nodular heterotopia with variable clinical expressivity.

J Med Genet 2021 Aug 5. Epub 2021 Aug 5.

Medical Genetics Unit, Foundation National Neurological Institute C Mondino Institute for Hospitalization and Care Scientific, Pavia, Italy

The primary anatomical defect leading to periventricular nodular heterotopia occurs within the neural progenitors along the neuroepithelial lining of the lateral ventricles and results from a defect in the initiation of neuronal migration, following disruption of the neuroependyma and impaired neuronal motility. Growing evidence indicates that the -dependent actin dynamics and regulation of vesicle formation and trafficking by activation of ADP-ribosylation factors (ARFs) can play an important role in this cortical malformation. We report the first inherited variant of in a girl with intellectual disability and periventricular nodular heterotopia who inherited the variant from the father with previously undiagnosed single nodular heterotopia and mild clinical expression. Additionally, both patients presented some features suggestive of hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia. These clinical features showed similarities to those of three previously reported cases with missense variants, confirming that haploinsufficiency of this gene causes a recognisable neurological disorder with abnormal neuronal migration and variable clinical expressivity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jmedgenet-2021-107783DOI Listing
August 2021

Hidden pandemic: COVID-19-related stress, SLC6A4 methylation, and infants' temperament at 3 months.

Sci Rep 2021 08 2;11(1):15658. Epub 2021 Aug 2.

IRCCS Mondino Foundation, Pavia, Italy.

The COVID-19 pandemic represents a collective trauma that may have enduring stress effects during sensitive periods, such as pregnancy. Prenatal stress may result in epigenetic signatures of stress-related genes (e.g., the serotonin transporter gene, SLC6A4) that may in turn influence infants' behavioral development. In April 2020, we launched a longitudinal cohort study to assess the behavioral and epigenetic vestiges of COVID-19-related prenatal stress exposure in mothers and infants. COVID-19-related prenatal stress was retrospectively assessed at birth. SLC6A4 methylation was assessed in thirteen CpG sites in mothers and infants' buccal cells. Infants' temperament was assessed at 3-month-age. Complete data were available from 108 mother-infant dyads. Greater COVID-19-related prenatal stress was significantly associated with higher infants' SLC6A4 methylation in seven CpG sites. SLC6A4 methylation at these sites predicted infants' temperament at 3 months.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-95053-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8329206PMC
August 2021

Prenatal maternal stress during the COVID-19 pandemic and infant regulatory capacity at 3 months: A longitudinal study.

Dev Psychopathol 2021 Jul 2:1-9. Epub 2021 Jul 2.

Child Neurology and Psychiatry Unit, IRCCS Mondino Foundation, Pavia, Italy.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a global traumatic experience for citizens, especially during sensitive time windows of heightened plasticity such as pregnancy and neonatal life. Pandemic-related stress experienced by mothers during pregnancy may act as an early risk factor for infants' regulatory capacity development by altering maternal psychosocial well-being (e.g., increased anxiety, reduced social support) and caregiving environment (e.g., greater parenting stress, impaired mother-infant bonding). The aim of the present longitudinal study was to assess the consequences of pandemic-related prenatal stress on infants' regulatory capacity. A sample of 163 mother-infant dyads was enrolled at eight maternity units in northern Italy. They provided complete data about prenatal stress, perceived social support, postnatal anxiety symptoms, parenting stress, mother-infant bonding, and infants' regulatory capacity at 3 months of age. Women who experienced emotional stress and received partial social support during pregnancy reported higher anxious symptoms. Moreover, maternal postnatal anxiety was indirectly linked to the infants' regulatory capacity at 3 months, mediated by parenting stress and mother-infant bonding. Dedicated preventive interventions should be delivered to mothers and should be focused on protecting the mother-infant dyad from the detrimental effects of pandemic-related stress during the COVID-19 healthcare emergency.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0954579421000766DOI Listing
July 2021

Diagnostic Yield and Cost-Effectiveness of "Dynamic" Exome Analysis in Epilepsy with Neurodevelopmental Disorders: A Tertiary-Center Experience in Northern Italy.

Diagnostics (Basel) 2021 May 25;11(6). Epub 2021 May 25.

Department of Child Neurology and Psychiatry, IRCCS Mondino Foundation, 27100 Pavia, Italy.

Background: The advent of next-generation sequencing (NGS) techniques in clinical practice led to a significant advance in gene discovery. We aimed to describe diagnostic yields of a "dynamic" exome-based approach in a cohort of patients with epilepsy associated with neurodevelopmental disorders.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective, observational study on 72 probands. All patients underwent a first diagnostic level of a 135 gene panel, a second of 297 genes for inconclusive cases, and finally, a whole-exome sequencing for negative cases. Diagnostic yields at each step and cost-effectiveness were the objects of statistical analysis.

Results: Overall diagnostic yield in our cohort was 37.5%: 29% of diagnoses derived from the first step analysis, 5.5% from the second step, and 3% from the third. A significant difference emerged between the three diagnostic steps ( < 0.01), between the first and second ( = 0.001), and the first and third ( << 0.001). The cost-effectiveness plane indicated that our exome-based "dynamic" approach was better in terms of cost savings and higher diagnostic rate.

Conclusions: Our findings suggested that "dynamic" NGS techniques applied to well-phenotyped individuals can save both time and resources. In patients with unexplained epilepsy comorbid with NDDs, our approach might maximize the number of diagnoses achieved.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/diagnostics11060948DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8228291PMC
May 2021

Placental Histological Features and Neurodevelopmental Outcomes at Two Years in Very-Low-Birth-Weight Infants.

Pediatr Neurol 2021 07 16;120:63-70. Epub 2021 Apr 16.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, IRCCS Foundation Policlinico San Matteo and University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy; Department of Clinical, Surgical, Diagnostic and Paediatric Sciences, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy. Electronic address:

Background: We evaluated the rates of placental pathologic lesions and their relationship with two-year neurodevelopmental outcomes in very-low-birth-weight (VLBW) infants.

Methods: This is a cohort observational study comprising 595 VLBW infants during 2007 to 2015. Neurodevelopmental assessment was carried out at 24 months corrected age.

Results: In univariate analysis the rates of survival with normal neurodevelopmental outcomes were lower in pregnancies with severe histologic chorioamnionitis (38 of 43, 88.4% when compared with 305 of 450, 67.8%), severe maternal vascular malperfusion (MVM) (17 of 37, 45.9% when compared with 326/492, 66.3%), and intravillous hemorrhage (37 of 82, 45.1% when compared with 306 of 449, 68.1%). In logistic models, severe MVM (adjusted odds ratio [adj. OR] = 0.45, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.22 to 0.92), severe fetal vascular malperfusion (FVM) (adj. OR = 0.46, 95% CI = 0.22 to 0.45), and intravillous hemorrhage (adj. OR = 0.38, 95% CI = 0.22 to 0.62) were associated with lower rates of infant survival with normal neurodevelopmental outcome. FVM (adj. OR = 0.46, 95% CI = 0.21 to 0.97) and intravillous hemorrhage (adj. OR = 0.37, 95% CI = 0.22 to 0.62) were also the only placental lesions that were independent predictors of a lower rate of intact survival in stepwise analysis for prognostic factors of the entire cohort.

Conclusions: Placental pathologic findings such as severe MVM, FVM, and intravillous hemorrhage are significant predictors of neonatal survival and subsequent adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes. Data on the placental pathology could be useful in the neurodevelopmental follow-up of VLBW infants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2021.04.007DOI Listing
July 2021

Case Report: Novel Compound Heterozygous Mutations Cause Aicardi-Goutières Syndrome.

Front Immunol 2021 26;12:672952. Epub 2021 Apr 26.

Genomic and Post-Genomic Unit, IRCCS Mondino Foundation, Pavia, Italy.

Aicardi-Goutières Syndrome (AGS) is a rare disorder characterized by neurological and immunological signs. In this study we have described a child with a phenotype consistent with AGS carrying a novel compound heterozygous mutation in gene. Next Generation Sequencing revealed two heterozygous variants in gene. We also highlighted a reduction of RNase H2B transcript and protein levels in all the family members. Lower protein levels of RNase H2A have been observed in all the members of the family as well, whereas a deep depletion of RNase H2C has only been identified in the affected child. The structural analysis showed that both mutations remove many intramolecular contacts, possibly introducing conformational rearrangements with a decrease of the stability of RNase H2B and strongly destabilizing the RNase H2 complex. Taken together, these results highlight the importance of an integrated diagnostic approach which takes into consideration clinical, genetic, and molecular analyses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2021.672952DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8107470PMC
October 2021

The Experience of Child Neuropsychiatry Residents who Volunteered in Italian COVID-19-Designated Hospitals.

Acad Psychiatry 2021 Oct 13;45(5):587-592. Epub 2021 Apr 13.

Department of Brain and Behavioral Sciences, University of Pavia, Pavia, PV, Italy.

Objective: During the first months of 2020, the coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID-19) spread rapidly and soon reached a pandemic level. With the increasing number of hospitalizations, medical and nursing personnel resources were soon inadequate. As a consequence, medical volunteers became a key human resource and young medical residents in any specialty were hired on a voluntary basis to contribute to take care of patients with COVID-19. This study reports on the lived experience of residents in child neuropsychiatry who volunteered in Italian hotspot COVID-19-designated hospitals during the epidemic outbreak.

Methods: A phenomenological, qualitative approach using semi-structured interviews with open-ended questions was used to obtain in-depth narratives of the experience of residents in child neuropsychiatry volunteering in North Italy COVID-19-designated hospitals. All residents (n = 8) participated in the study. Interviews were conducted by an expert researcher trained in qualitative methods. Data analysis was performed by independent coders.

Results: Five core themes could be identified from the interviews: acting as mediators on two fronts, facing the shock of COVID-19 reality, capitalizing from specialty education, growing as persons and professionals, and humanizing medical care.

Conclusions: This study is unique in providing an in-depth understanding of the experience of young residents in child neuropsychiatry volunteering in general hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic in Northern Italy. The findings suggest that this experience may be highly beneficial for both the residents and the hospital quality of care. Insights for an accurate planning of residents' engagement in future healthcare emergencies are provided.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s40596-021-01442-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8043436PMC
October 2021

Placental features of fetal vascular malperfusion and infant neurodevelopmental outcomes at 2 years of age in severe fetal growth restriction.

Am J Obstet Gynecol 2021 10 1;225(4):413.e1-413.e11. Epub 2021 Apr 1.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Fondazione IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo, Pavia, Italy; Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy.

Background: Placental pathologic lesions suggesting maternal or fetal vascular malperfusion are common among pregnancies complicated by intrauterine growth restriction. Data on the relationship between pathologic placental lesions and subsequent infant neurodevelopmental outcomes are limited.

Objective: This study aimed to assess the relationship between placental pathologic lesions and infant neurodevelopmental outcomes at 2 years of age in a cohort of pregnancies complicated by intrauterine growth restriction.

Study Design: An observational cohort study included singleton intrauterine growth restriction pregnancies delivered at ≤34 weeks' gestation and with a birthweight of ≤1500 g at a single institution in the period between 2007 and 2016. Maternal and neonatal data were collected at discharge from the hospital. Infant neurodevelopmental assessment was performed every 3 months during the first year of life and every 6 months in the second year. Penalized logistic regression was used to test the association of maternal vascular malperfusion and fetal vascular malperfusion with infant outcomes adjusting for confounders.

Results: Of the 249 pregnancies enrolled, neonatal mortality was 8.8% (22 of 249). Severe and overall maternal vascular malperfusion were 16.1% (40 of 249) and 31.7% (79 of 249), respectively. Severe maternal vascular malperfusion was associated with an increased risk of neonatal mortality (adjusted odds ratio, 3.3; 95% confidence interval, 1.2-9.5). Among the 198 survivors after a 2-year neurodevelopmental follow-up evaluation, the rate of major and minor neurodevelopmental sequelae was 57.1% (4 of 7) among severe fetal vascular malperfusion (adjusted odds ratio, 24.5; 95% confidence interval, 4.1-146), 44.8% (13 of 29) among overall fetal vascular malperfusion (adjusted odds ratio, 5.8; 95% confidence interval, 5.1-16.2), and 7.1% (12 of 169) in pregnancies without fetal vascular malperfusion. Infants born from pregnancies with fetal vascular malperfusion also had lower 2-year general quotient, personal-social, hearing and speech, and performance subscales scores than those without fetal vascular malperfusion. Finally, in the presence of fetal vascular malperfusion, the likelihood of a 2-year infant survival with normal neurodevelopmental outcomes was reduced by more than 70% (adjusted odds ratio, 0.29; 95% confidence interval, 0.14-0.63). Noticeably, 10 of the 20 subjects with a 2-year major neurodevelopmental impairment (3 of 4 with severe fetal vascular malperfusion) had little or no abnormal neurologic findings at discharge from neonatal intensive care unit.

Conclusion: In preterm intrauterine growth restriction, placental fetal vascular malperfusion is correlated with an increased risk of abnormal infant neurodevelopmental outcomes at 2 years of age even in the absence of brain lesions or neurologic abnormalities at discharge from the neonatal intensive care unit. In the case of a diagnosis of fetal vascular malperfusion, pediatricians and neurologists should be alerted to an increased risk of subsequent infant neurodevelopmental problems.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajog.2021.03.037DOI Listing
October 2021

A novel de novo DDX3X missense variant in a female with brachycephaly and intellectual disability: a case report.

Ital J Pediatr 2021 Mar 31;47(1):81. Epub 2021 Mar 31.

Fondazione IRCCS Ca' Granda, Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Milan, Italy.

Background: De novo pathogenic variants in the DDX3X gene are reported to account for 1-3% of unexplained intellectual disability (ID) in females, leading to the rare disease known as DDX3X syndrome (MRXSSB, OMIM #300958). Besides ID, these patients manifest a variable clinical presentation, which includes neurological and behavioral defects, and abnormal brain MRIs.

Case Presentation: We report a 10-year-old girl affected by delayed psychomotor development, delayed myelination, and polymicrogyria (PMG). We identified a novel de novo missense mutation in the DDX3X gene (c.625C > G) by whole exome sequencing (WES). The DDX3X gene encodes a DEAD-box ATP-dependent RNA-helicase broadly implicated in gene expression through regulation of mRNA metabolism. The identified mutation is located just upstream the helicase domain and is suggested to impair the protein activity, thus resulting in the altered translation of DDX3X-dependent mRNAs. The proband, presenting with the typical PMG phenotype related to the syndrome, does not show other clinical signs frequently reported in presence of missense DDX3X mutations that are associated with a most severe clinical presentation. In addition, she has brachycephaly, never described in female DDX3X patients, and macroglossia, that has never been associated with the syndrome.

Conclusions: This case expands the knowledge of DDX3X pathogenic variants and the associated DDX3X syndrome phenotypic spectrum.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13052-021-01033-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8011215PMC
March 2021

Ruxolitinib in Aicardi-Goutières syndrome.

Metab Brain Dis 2021 06 15;36(5):859-863. Epub 2021 Mar 15.

Department of Pediatric Neurology, V. Buzzi Children's Hospital, Via Castelvetro 32, 20154, Milan, Italy.

Aicardi-Goutières Syndrome (AGS) is a monogenic leukodystrophy with pediatric onset, clinically characterized by a variable degree of neurologic impairment. It belongs to a group of condition called type I interferonopathies that are characterized by abnormal overproduction of interferon alpha, an inflammatory cytokine which action is mediated by the activation of two of the four human Janus Kinases. Thanks to an ever-increasing knowledge of the molecular basis and pathogenetic mechanisms of the disease, Janus Kinase inhibitors (JAKIs) have been proposed as a treatment option for selected interferonopathies. Here we reported the 24 months follow-up of the fifth AGS patient treated with ruxolitinib described so far in literature. The treatment was globally well tolerated; clinical examinations and radiological images demonstrated a progressively improving course. It is however to note that patients presenting with mild and spontaneously improving course have been reported. Large natural history studies on AGS spectrum are strongly required in order to get a better understanding of the results emerging from ongoing therapeutic trials on such rare disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11011-021-00716-5DOI Listing
June 2021

The epileptology of Aicardi-Goutières syndrome: electro-clinical-radiological findings.

Seizure 2021 Mar 1;86:197-209. Epub 2020 Dec 1.

Department of Child Neurology and Psychiatry, IRCCS Mondino Foundation, Pavia, Italy; Department of Brain and Behavioural Sciences, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy.

Objective: Although epileptic seizures occur in approximately a quarter of patients with Aicardi-Goutières syndrome (AGS), their phenotypic and electrophysiological characterization remains elusive. The aim of our study was to characterize epilepsy phenotypes and electroencephalographic (EEG) patterns in AGS and look for possible correlations with clinical, genetic and neuroradiological features.

Methods: We selected patients with an established AGS diagnosis followed at three Italian reference centers. Medical records, EEGs and MRI/CT findings were reviewed. EEGs were independently and blindly reviewed by three board-certified pediatric epileptologists. Chi square and Fisher's exact tests were used to test associations between epilepsy and EEG feature categories and clinical, radiological and genetic variables.

Results: Twenty-seven patients were enrolled. We reviewed 63 EEGs and at least one brain MRI scan per patient. Epilepsy, mainly in the form of epileptic spasms and focal seizures, was present in 37 % of the cohort; mean age at epilepsy onset was 9.5 months (range 1-36). The presence of epilepsy was associated with calcification severity (p = 0.016) and startle reactions (p = 0.05). Organization of EEG electrical activity appeared to be disrupted or markedly disrupted in 73 % of cases. Severe EEG disorganization correlated with microcephaly (p < 0.001) and highly abnormal MRI T2-weighted signal intensity in white matter (p = 0.022). Physiological organization of the EEG was found to be better preserved during sleep (87 %) than wakefulness (38 %). Focal slow activity was recorded in more than one third of cases. Fast activity, either diffuse or with frontal location, was more frequent in the awake state (78 %) than in sleep (50 %). Interictal epileptiform discharges (IEDs) were present in 33 % of awake and 45 % of sleep recordings. IEDs during sleep were associated with a higher risk of a epileptic seizures (p = 0.008).

Significance: The hallmarks of EEG recordings in AGS were found to be: disruption of electrical organization, the presence of focal slow and fast activity, and the presence of IEDs, both in patients with and in those without epilepsy. The associations between epilepsy and calcification and between EEG pattern and the finding of a highly abnormal white matter T2 signal intensity suggest a common anatomical correlate. However, the complex anatomical-electroclinical basis of AGS-related epilepsy still requires further elucidation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.seizure.2020.11.019DOI Listing
March 2021

Oral melatonin as a new tool for neuroprotection in preterm newborns: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial.

Trials 2021 Jan 22;22(1):82. Epub 2021 Jan 22.

Child Neurology and Psychiatry Unit, Department of Brain and Behavioral Sciences, University of Pavia, 27100, Pavia, Italy.

Background: Prevention of neurodevelopmental impairment due to preterm birth is a major health challenge. Despite advanced obstetric and neonatal care, to date there are few neuroprotective molecules available. Melatonin has been shown to have anti-oxidant/anti-inflammatory effects and to reduce brain damage, mainly after hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. The planned study will be the first aiming to evaluate the capacity of melatonin to mitigate brain impairment due to premature birth.

Method: In our planned prospective, multicenter, double-blind, randomized vs placebo study, we will recruit, within 96 h of birth, 60 preterm newborns with a gestational age ≤ 29 weeks + 6 days; these infants will be randomly allocated to oral melatonin, 3 mg/kg/day, or placebo for 15 days. After the administration period, we will measure plasma levels of malondialdehyde, a lipid peroxidation product considered an early biological marker of melatonin treatment efficacy (primary outcome). At term-equivalent age, we will evaluate neurological status (through cerebral ultrasound, cerebral magnetic resonance imaging, vision and hearing evaluations, clinical neurological assessment, and screening for retinopathy of prematurity) as well as the incidence of bronchodysplasia and sepsis. We will also monitor neurodevelopmental outcome during the first 24 months of corrected age (using the modified Fagan Test of Infant Intelligence at 4-6 months and standardized neurological and developmental assessments at 24 months).

Discussion: Preterm birth survivors often present long-term neurodevelopmental sequelae, such as motor, learning, social-behavioral, and communication problems. We aim to assess the role of melatonin as a neuroprotectant during the first weeks of extrauterine life, when preterm infants are unable to produce it spontaneously. This approach is based on the supposition that its anti-oxidant mechanism could be useful in preventing neurodevelopmental impairment. Considering the short- and long-term morbidities related to preterm birth, and the financial and social costs of the care of preterm infants, both at birth and over time, we suggest that melatonin administration could lead to considerable saving of resources. This would be the first study addressing the role of melatonin in very low birth weight preterm newborns, and it could provide a basis for further studies on melatonin as a neuroprotection strategy in this vulnerable population.

Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04235673 . Prospectively registered on 22 January 2020.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13063-021-05034-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7820522PMC
January 2021

Differential Expression of Interferon-Alpha Protein Provides Clues to Tissue Specificity Across Type I Interferonopathies.

J Clin Immunol 2021 04 7;41(3):603-609. Epub 2021 Jan 7.

General Paediatrics- Infectious Diseases and Internal Medicine Department, Robert-Debré Hospital, AP-HP, Nord - Université de Paris, Paris, France.

Whilst upregulation of type I interferon (IFN) signaling is common across the type I interferonopathies (T1Is), central nervous system (CNS) involvement varies between these disorders, the basis of which remains unclear. We collected cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and serum from patients with Aicardi-Goutières syndrome (AGS), STING-associated vasculopathy with onset in infancy (SAVI), presumed monogenic T1Is (pT1I), childhood systemic lupus erythematosus with neuropsychiatric features (nSLE), non-IFN-related autoinflammation (AI) and non-inflammatory hydrocephalus (as controls). We measured IFN-alpha protein using digital ELISA. Eighty-two and 63 measurements were recorded respectively in CSF and serum of 42 patients and 6 controls. In an intergroup comparison (taking one sample per individual), median CSF IFN-alpha levels were elevated in AGS, SAVI, pT1I, and nSLE compared to AI and controls, with levels highest in AGS compared to all other groups. In AGS, CSF IFN-alpha concentrations were higher than in paired serum samples. In contrast, serum IFN was consistently higher compared to CSF levels in SAVI, pT1I, and nSLE. Whilst IFN-alpha is present in the CSF and serum of all IFN-related diseases studied here, our data suggest the primary sites of IFN production in the monogenic T1I AGS and SAVI are, respectively, the CNS and the periphery. These results inform the diagnosis of, and future therapeutic approaches to, monogenic and multifactorial T1Is.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10875-020-00952-xDOI Listing
April 2021

Measuring the Outcomes of Maternal COVID-19-related Prenatal Exposure (MOM-COPE): study protocol for a multicentric longitudinal project.

BMJ Open 2020 12 31;10(12):e044585. Epub 2020 Dec 31.

Child Neurology and Psychiatry Unit, IRCCS Mondino Foundation, Pavia, Italy.

Introduction: COVID-19 is a highly infectious respiratory disease that rapidly emerged as an unprecedented epidemic in Europe, with a primary hotspot in Northern Italy during the first months of 2020. Its high infection rate and rapid spread contribute to set the risk for relevant psychological stress in citizens. In this context, mother-infant health is at risk not only because of potential direct exposure to the virus but also due to high levels of stress experienced by mothers from conception to delivery. Prenatal stress exposure associates with less-than-optimal child developmental outcomes, and specific epigenetic mechanisms (eg, DNA methylation) may play a critical role in mediating this programming association.

Methods And Analysis: We present the methodological protocol for a longitudinal, multicentric study on the behavioural and epigenetic effects of COVID-19-related prenatal stress in a cohort of mother-infant dyads in Northern Italy. The dyads will be enrolled at 10 facilities in Northern Italy. Saliva samples will be collected at birth to assess the methylation status of specific genes linked with stress regulation in mothers and newborns. Mothers will provide retrospective data on COVID-19-related stress during pregnancy. At 3, 6 and 12 months, mothers will provide data on child behavioural and socioemotional outcomes, their own psychological status (stress, depressive and anxious symptoms) and coping strategies. At 12 months, infants and mothers will be videotaped during semistructured interaction to assess maternal sensitivity and infant's relational functioning.

Ethics And Dissemination: This study was approved by the Ethics Committee (Pavia). Results will be published in peer-reviewed journals and presented at national and international scientific conferences.

Trial Registration Number: NCT04540029; Pre-results.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2020-044585DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7780424PMC
December 2020

Late-Onset Aicardi-Goutières Syndrome: A Characterization of Presenting Clinical Features.

Pediatr Neurol 2021 02 2;115:1-6. Epub 2020 Nov 2.

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Electronic address:

Background: Aicardi-Goutières syndrome (AGS) is a genetic interferonopathy characterized by early onset of severe neurological injury with intracranial calcifications, leukoencephalopathy, and systemic inflammation. Increasingly, a spectrum of neurological dysfunction and presentation beyond the infantile period is being recognized in AGS. The aim of this study was to characterize late-infantile and juvenile-onset AGS.

Methods: We conducted a multi-institution review of individuals with AGS who were older than one year at the time of presentation, including medical history, imaging characteristics, and suspected diagnoses at presentation.

Results: Thirty-four individuals were identified, all with pathogenic variants in RNASEH2B, SAMHD1, ADAR1, or IFIH1. Most individuals had a history of developmental delay and/or systemic symptoms, such as sterile pyrexias and chilblains, followed by a prodromal period associated with increasing symptoms. This was followed by an abrupt onset of neurological decline (fulminant phase), with a median onset at 1.33 years (range 1.00 to 17.68 years). Most individuals presented with a change in gross motor skills (97.0%), typically with increased tone (78.8%). Leukodystrophy was the most common magnetic resonance imaging finding (40.0%). Calcifications were less common (12.9%).

Conclusions: This is the first study to characterize the presentation of late-infantile and juvenile onset AGS and its phenotypic spectrum. Late-onset AGS can present insidiously and lacks classical clinical and neuroimaging findings. Signs of early systemic dysfunction before fulminant disease onset and loss of motor symptoms were common. We strongly recommend genetic testing when there is concern for sustained inflammation of unknown origins or changes in motor skills in children older than one year.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2020.10.012DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7856674PMC
February 2021

Basal Ganglia Dysmorphism in Patients With Aicardi Syndrome.

Neurology 2021 03 4;96(9):e1319-e1333. Epub 2020 Dec 4.

From the Department of Brain and Behavioural Neurosciences (S.M., A.P., M. Formica, S.O.) and Department of Public Health Experimental and Forensic Medicine, Biostatistic and Clinical Epidemiology Unit (P. Borrelli), University of Pavia; Pediatric Neurology Unit (S.M., M. Mastrangelo, P.V.), V. Buzzi Children's Hospital, Milan; Department of Neuroradiology (A.P.), Child Neurology and Psychiatry Unit (R.B., V.D.G., S.O.), and Department of Internal Medicine and Therapeutics, Member of the ERN EpiCARE, University of Pavia and Clinical Trial Center (E.P.), IRCCS Mondino Foundation Pavia; Neuroimaging Lab (F.A.) and Neuropsychiatry and Neurorehabilitation Unit (R.R.), Scientific Institute, IRCCS Eugenio Medea, Bosisio Parini, Lecco; Child Neuropsychiatric Unit (P.A., L.G.), Civilian Hospital, Brescia; Scientific Institute (P. Bonanni, A.D., E.O.), IRCCS E. Medea, Epilepsy and Clinical Neurophysiology Unit, Conegliano, Treviso; UOC Child Neuropsychiatry (B.D.B., F.D.), Department of Surgical Sciences, Dentistry, Gynecology and Pediatrics, University of Verona, Italy; Département de Neurologie Pédiatrique (N.D.), Hôpital Universitaire des Enfants Reine Fabiola, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium; AdPueriVitam (O.D.), Antony; Service d'Explorations Fonctionnelles (S.G.), Centre de Médecine du Sommeil, l'Hôpital Àntoine Béclère, AP-HP, Clamart; Pediatrics Departement (S.G.), André-Grégoire Hospital, Centre Hospitalier Inter Communal, Montreuil, France; Pediatric Neurology, Neurogenetics and Neurobiology Unit and Laboratories, Neuroscience Department (R.G., M. Montomoli, M.C.) and Radiology (M. Mortilla), A. Meyer Children's Hospital, Member of the ERN EpiCARE, University of Florence; IRCCS Stella Maris Foundation (R.G.), Pisa; Child Neuropsychiatry Unit, Epilepsy Center (F.L.B., A.V.), San Paolo Hospital, Department of Health Sciences, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milan; Child Neurology, NESMOS Department (P.P.), Faculty of Medicine & Psychology, Sant'Andrea Hospital, Sapienza University, Rome; Department of Neuroradiology (L.P.), Pediatric Neuroradiology Section, ASST Spedali Civili, Brescia; Pediatric Neuroradiology Unit (M.S.), IRCCS Istituto Giannina Gaslini, Genova; Neurology Unit, Department of Neuroscience, Member of the ERN EpiCARE (F.V.), Oncological Neuroradiology Unit, Department of Imaging, IRCCS (G.C.), and Department of Neuroscience and Neurorehabilitation (A.F.), Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital, Rome, Italy; Institut Imagine (N.B.-B.), Université Paris Descartes-Sorbonne Paris Cités; Pediatric Neurology (N.B.-B., I.D.), Necker Enfants Malades Hospital, Member of the ERN EpiCARE, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris; INSERM UMR-1163 (N.B.-B., A. Arzimanoglou), Embryology and Genetics of Congenital Malformations, France; UOC Neurochirurgia (A. Accogli, V.C.), Pediatric Neurology and Muscular Diseases Unit, Department of Neurosciences, Rehabilitation, Ophthalmology, Genetics, Maternal and Child Health, University of Genoa (F.Z.), and Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Neuroscience, IRCCS (F.Z.), Istituto Giannina Gaslini, Genoa, Italy; Neurochirurgie Pédiatrique (M.B.), Hôpital NEM, Paris, France; Centre Médico-Chirurgical des Eaux-Vives (V.C.-V.), Swiss Medical Network, Genève, Switzerland; Neuroradiology Unit (L.C.) and Developmental Neurology Unit (S.D.), Foundation IRCCS C. Besta Neurological Institute, Milan; Service de Génétique (M.D.-F.), AMH2, CHU Reims, UFR de Médecine, Reims, France; Epilepsy Centre-Clinic of Nervous System Diseases (G.d.), Riuniti Hospital, Foggia, Italy; MediClubGeorgia Co Ltd (N.E.), Tbilisi, Georgia; Epilepsy Center (N.E.), Medical Center, Faculty of Medicine, University of Freiburg, Germany; Child and Adolescence Neurology and Psychiatry Unit (E. Fazzi), ASST Civil Hospital, Department of Clinical and Experimental Sciences, University of Brescia; Child Neurology Department (E. Fiorini), Verona, Italy; Service de Genetique Clinique (M. Fradin, P.L., C.Q.), CLAD-Ouest, Hospital Sud, Rennes, France; Child Neurology Unit, Pediatric Department (C.F., C.S.), Azienda USL-IRCCS di Reggio Emilia; Department of Pediatric Neuroscience (T.G., R.S.), Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Neurologico Carlo Besta, Member of the ERN EpiCARE, Milan, Italy; Department of Epilepsy Genetics and Personalized Treatment (K.M.J., R.S.M.), The Danish Epilepsy Centre, Dianalund; Institute for Regional Health Services (K.M.J., R.S.M.), University of Southern Denmark, Odense; Unit of Pediatric Neurology and Pediatric Neurorehabilitation (S.L.), Woman-Mother-Child Department, Lausanne University Hospital CHUV, Switzerland; Unit of Neuroradiology (D.M.), Fondazione CNR/Regione Toscana G. Monasterio, Pisa; Pediatric Neurology Unit and Epilepsy Center (E.R., A.R.), Fatebenefratelli Hospital, Milan, Italy; KJF Klinik Josefinum GmbH (C.U.), Klinik für Kinder und Jugendliche, Neuropädiatrie, Augsburg, Germany; Department of Paediatric Clinical Epileptology, Sleep Disorders and Functional Neurology (A. Arzimanoglou), University Hospitals of Lyon, Coordinator of the ERN EpiCARE, France; and Pediatric Epilepsy Unit, Child Neurology Department (P.V.), Hospital San Juan de Dios, Member of the ERN EpiCARE and Universitat de Barcelona, Spain.

Objective: Aiming to detect associations between neuroradiologic and EEG evaluations and long-term clinical outcome in order to detect possible prognostic factors, a detailed clinical and neuroimaging characterization of 67 cases of Aicardi syndrome (AIC), collected through a multicenter collaboration, was performed.

Methods: Only patients who satisfied Sutton diagnostic criteria were included. Clinical outcome was assessed using gross motor function, manual ability, and eating and drinking ability classification systems. Brain imaging studies and statistical analysis were reviewed.

Results: Patients presented early-onset epilepsy, which evolved into drug-resistant seizures. AIC has a variable clinical course, leading to permanent disability in most cases; nevertheless, some cases presented residual motor abilities. Chorioretinal lacunae were present in 86.56% of our patients. Statistical analysis revealed correlations between MRI, EEG at onset, and clinical outcome. On brain imaging, 100% of the patients displayed corpus callosum malformations, 98% cortical dysplasia and nodular heterotopias, and 96.36% intracranial cysts (with similar rates of 2b and 2d). As well as demonstrating that posterior fossa abnormalities (found in 63.63% of cases) should also be considered a common feature in AIC, our study highlighted the presence (in 76.36%) of basal ganglia dysmorphisms (never previously reported).

Conclusion: The AIC neuroradiologic phenotype consists of a complex brain malformation whose presence should be considered central to the diagnosis. Basal ganglia dysmorphisms are frequently associated. Our work underlines the importance of MRI and EEG, both for correct diagnosis and as a factor for predicting long-term outcome.

Classification Of Evidence: This study provides Class II evidence that for patients with AIC, specific MRI abnormalities and EEG at onset are associated with clinical outcomes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000011237DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8055324PMC
March 2021

cGAS-mediated induction of type I interferon due to inborn errors of histone pre-mRNA processing.

Nat Genet 2020 12 23;52(12):1364-1372. Epub 2020 Nov 23.

Genomic and Post-Genomic Center, Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico, Mondino Foundation, Pavia, Italy.

Inappropriate stimulation or defective negative regulation of the type I interferon response can lead to autoinflammation. In genetically uncharacterized cases of the type I interferonopathy Aicardi-Goutières syndrome, we identified biallelic mutations in LSM11 and RNU7-1, which encode components of the replication-dependent histone pre-mRNA-processing complex. Mutations were associated with the misprocessing of canonical histone transcripts and a disturbance of linker histone stoichiometry. Additionally, we observed an altered distribution of nuclear cyclic guanosine monophosphate-adenosine monophosphate synthase (cGAS) and enhanced interferon signaling mediated by the cGAS-stimulator of interferon genes (STING) pathway in patient-derived fibroblasts. Finally, we established that chromatin without linker histone stimulates cyclic guanosine monophosphate-adenosine monophosphate (cGAMP) production in vitro more efficiently. We conclude that nuclear histones, as key constituents of chromatin, are essential in suppressing the immunogenicity of self-DNA.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-020-00737-3DOI Listing
December 2020

Endocrine and Growth Abnormalities in 4H Leukodystrophy Caused by Variants in POLR3A, POLR3B, and POLR1C.

J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2021 01;106(2):e660-e674

Department of Child Neurology, University Children's Hospital Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany.

Context: 4H or POLR3-related leukodystrophy is an autosomal recessive disorder typically characterized by hypomyelination, hypodontia, and hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, caused by biallelic pathogenic variants in POLR3A, POLR3B, POLR1C, and POLR3K. The endocrine and growth abnormalities associated with this disorder have not been thoroughly investigated to date.

Objective: To systematically characterize endocrine abnormalities of patients with 4H leukodystrophy.

Design: An international cross-sectional study was performed on 150 patients with genetically confirmed 4H leukodystrophy between 2015 and 2016. Endocrine and growth abnormalities were evaluated, and neurological and other non-neurological features were reviewed. Potential genotype/phenotype associations were also investigated.

Setting: This was a multicenter retrospective study using information collected from 3 predominant centers.

Patients: A total of 150 patients with 4H leukodystrophy and pathogenic variants in POLR3A, POLR3B, or POLR1C were included.

Main Outcome Measures: Variables used to evaluate endocrine and growth abnormalities included pubertal history, hormone levels (estradiol, testosterone, stimulated LH and FSH, stimulated GH, IGF-I, prolactin, ACTH, cortisol, TSH, and T4), and height and head circumference charts.

Results: The most common endocrine abnormalities were delayed puberty (57/74; 77% overall, 64% in males, 89% in females) and short stature (57/93; 61%), when evaluated according to physician assessment. Abnormal thyroid function was reported in 22% (13/59) of patients.

Conclusions: Our results confirm pubertal abnormalities and short stature are the most common endocrine features seen in 4H leukodystrophy. However, we noted that endocrine abnormalities are typically underinvestigated in this patient population. A prospective study is required to formulate evidence-based recommendations for management of the endocrine manifestations of this disorder.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/clinem/dgaa700DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7823228PMC
January 2021

Commentary on "Catatonia in a Patient with Aicardi-Goutières Syndrome Efficiently Treated with Immunoadsorption".

Schizophr Res 2020 10 12;224:188-189. Epub 2020 Sep 12.

Department of Child Neurology and Psychiatry, IRCCS Mondino Foundation, Pavia, Italy; Department of Brain and Behavioral Sciences, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.schres.2020.08.023DOI Listing
October 2020

A global perspective on parental stress in the neonatal intensive care unit: a meta-analytic study.

J Perinatol 2020 12 8;40(12):1739-1752. Epub 2020 Sep 8.

Child Neurology and Psychiatry Unit, IRCCS Mondino Foundation, Pavia, Italy.

Objectives: The Parental Stressor Scale: Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (PSS:NICU) is a well-validated tool to assess different sources of stress in parents during the NICU hospitalization of their infant. The present meta-analytic study assessed the relative impact of different NICU-related sources of parental stress in a pool of studies conducted in a wide set of different countries. Also, differences in stress levels by parent gender and country, as well as the impact of infants' neonatal characteristics and clinical conditions were explored.

Methods: Records were searched on PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science (January 1993-December 2019). A purposive open search string was adopted: ["PSS:NICU"] OR ["PSS-NICU"] OR ["Parental Stressor Scale"]. A multiple random-effect meta-analysis was conducted on data from 53 studies extracted by independent coders.

Results: Parental role alteration emerged as the greatest source of stress for both mothers and fathers. Mothers reported higher stress levels compared to fathers. A significant difference emerged only for the subscale related to sights and sounds physical stimuli. No significant effects of infants' neonatal characteristics (gestational age, birth weight) and clinical conditions (comorbidities) emerged. A marginal positive effect of NICU length of stay emerged on the global level of parents' stress.

Conclusions: The current meta-analysis underlines that parental stress related to NICU admission is a worldwide healthcare issue. Immediate and tailored support to parents after the birth of their at-risk infant should be prioritized to reduce parental stress and to promote mothers and fathers' emotional well-being and new-born neurodevelopmental outcomes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41372-020-00798-6DOI Listing
December 2020

Alazami syndrome: Phenotypic expansion and clinical resemblance to Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome.

Am J Med Genet A 2020 11 5;182(11):2722-2726. Epub 2020 Sep 5.

Medical Genetics Unit, IRCCS Mondino Foundation, Pavia, Italy.

Biallelic mutations in the LARP7 gene have been recently shown to cause Alazami syndrome, a rare condition characterized by short stature, intellectual disability, and peculiar facial dysmorphisms. To date, only 24 cases have been reported. Here, we describe two brothers initially suspected to have Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome, in whom clinical exome sequencing detected a novel homozygous truncating variant in LARP7. These cases expand the phenotypic spectrum of Alazami syndrome to include toes syndactyly and adaptive behavior, and confirm the power of "genotype first" approach in patients with syndromic presentations overlapping distinct rare conditions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajmg.a.61832DOI Listing
November 2020

Early Parenting Intervention - Biobehavioral Outcomes in infants with Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (EPI-BOND): study protocol for an Italian multicentre randomised controlled trial.

BMJ Open 2020 07 21;10(7):e035249. Epub 2020 Jul 21.

Child Neurology and Psychiatry Unit, IRCCS Mondino Foundation, Pavia, Italy.

Introduction: Neurodevelopmental disability (ND) represents an adverse condition for infants' socio-emotional and behavioural development as well as for caregiving (eg, parental sensitivity) and mother-infant interaction. Adverse exposures are associated with altered neuroendocrine hormones concentrations (eg, oxytocin and cortisol) and epigenetic regulation (eg, methylation of stress-related genes), which in turn may contribute to less-than-optimal mother-infant interaction. Parental sensitivity is a protective factor for childrens' development and early parental interventions (eg, video-feedback intervention) can promote parental caregiving and better developmental outcomes in children. The present multi-centric and longitudinal randomised controlled trial aims to assess if and to which extent early VFI could benefit both infants and mothers in terms of behavioural outcomes as well as neuroendocrine and epigenetic regulation.

Methods And Analysis: Dyads will be randomly assigned to the video-feedback Intervention Group or Control Group ('dummy' intervention: telephone calls). Infants with ND aged 3 to 18 months will be recruited from three major child neuropsychiatric units in northern Italy. A multi-layer approach to intervention effects will include videotapes of mother-infant interaction, maternal reports as well as saliva samples for hormones concentrations and target-gene methylation analysis (eg, , , ) that will be obtained at each of the four assessment sessions: T, baseline; T, post-intervention; T, short-term follow-up (3 month); T, long-term follow-up (6 month). Primary effectiveness measures will be infant socio-emotional behaviour and maternal sensitivity. Neuroendocrine hormones concentrations and DNA methylation status of target genes will be secondary outcomes. Feasibility, moderation and confounding variables will be measured and controlled between the two groups.

Ethics And Dissemination: Ethics approval has been obtained in all three participating units. Results of the main trial and each of the secondary endpoints will be submitted for publication in peer-reviewed journals and international conferences.

Trial Registration Number: NCT03853564; Pre-results.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2019-035249DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7375429PMC
July 2020

Aicardi Syndrome: Key Fetal MRI Features and Prenatal Differential Diagnosis.

Neuropediatrics 2020 08 3;51(4):276-285. Epub 2020 Jul 3.

Department of Pediatric Radiology and Neuroradiology, Children's Hospital V. Buzzi, Milan, Italy.

Objective: This study was aimed to investigate the prenatal findings in Aicardi syndrome (AIC) by intrauterine magnetic resonance imaging (iuMRI) suggesting possible diagnostic criteria and differential diagnosis.

Methods: The iuMRI features of nine AIC confirmed cases were described and then compared with those of postnatal MRI. Furthermore, all iuMRI cases with both corpus callosum (CC) agenesis-dysgenesis and cortical malformation (AIC mimickers) were retrospectively reviewed and compared with iuMRI AIC cases, in order to identify possible neuroradiological predictors of AIC syndrome. For this purpose, Chi-square statistic and binary logistic regression analysis were performed.

Results: In all AIC cases, iuMRI was able to detect CC agenesis-dysgenesis and cortical development anomalies. Postnatal MRI revealed some additional findings mainly including further cystic lesions and in two cases small coloboma. A statistically significant difference between AIC and AIC mimicker were found regarding sex, nodular heterotopias, posterior fossa abnormalities, coloboma, and cortical gyration abnormalities. The most predictive variables in the logistic regression model were cortical gyration abnormalities, coloboma, and sex.

Conclusion: The iuMRI findings may suggest prenatal diagnosis of AIC syndrome with significant impact on parental counseling. Among possible differential diagnoses, tubulinopathies emerged.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1055/s-0040-1710528DOI Listing
August 2020
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