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Abstract

Objective:

KCNQ2 and KCNQ3 mutations are known to be responsible for benign familial neonatal seizures (BFNS). A few reports on patients with a KCNQ2 mutation with a more severe outcome exist, but a definite relationship has not been established. In this study we investigated whether KCNQ2/3 mutations are a frequent cause of epileptic encephalopathies with an early onset and whether a recognizable phenotype exists.

Methods:

We analyzed 80 patients with unexplained neonatal or early-infantile seizures and associated psychomotor retardation for KCNQ2 and KCNQ3 mutations. Clinical and imaging data were reviewed in detail.

Results:

We found 7 different heterozygous KCNQ2 mutations in 8 patients (8/80; 10%); 6 mutations arose de novo. One parent with a milder phenotype was mosaic for the mutation. No KCNQ3 mutations were found. The 8 patients had onset of intractable seizures in the first week of life with a prominent tonic component. Seizures generally resolved by age 3 years but the children had profound, or less frequently severe, intellectual disability with motor impairment. Electroencephalography (EEG) at onset showed a burst-suppression pattern or multifocal epileptiform activity. Early magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain showed characteristic hyperintensities in the basal ganglia and thalamus that later resolved.

Interpretation:

KCNQ2 mutations are found in a substantial proportion of patients with a neonatal epileptic encephalopathy with a potentially recognizable electroclinical and radiological phenotype. This suggests that KCNQ2 screening should be included in the diagnostic workup of refractory neonatal seizures of unknown origin. ANN NEUROL 2012;71:15–25