Early Treatment with Quinidine in 2 Patients with Epilepsy of Infancy with Migrating Focal Seizures (EIMFS) Due to Gain-of-Function KCNT1 Mutations: Functional Studies, Clinical Responses, and Critical Issues for Personalized Therapy

Robertino Dilena, Jacopo C. DiFrancesco, Maria Virginia Soldovieri, Antonella Giacobbe, Paolo Ambrosino, Ilaria Mosca, Maria Albina Galli, Sophie Guez, Monica Fumagalli, Francesco Miceli, Dario Cattaneo, Francesca Darra, Elena Gennaro, Federico Zara, Pasquale Striano, Barbara Castellotti, Cinzia Gellera, Costanza Varesio, Pierangelo Veggiotti, Maurizio Taglialatela

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Epilepsy of infancy with migrating focal seizures (EIMFS) is a rare early-onset developmental epileptic encephalopathy resistant to anti-epileptic drugs. The most common cause for EIMFS is a gain-of-function mutation in the KCNT1 potassium channel gene, and treatment with the KCNT1 blocker quinidine has been suggested as a rational approach for seizure control in EIMFS patients. However, variable results on the clinical efficacy of quinidine have been reported. In the present study, we provide a detailed description of the clinical, genetic, in vitro, and in vivo electrophysiological profile and pharmacological responses to quinidine of 2 EIMFS unrelated patients with a heterozygous de novo KCNT1 mutation: c.2849G>A (p.R950Q) in patient 1 and c.2677G>A (p.E893K) in patient 2. When expressed heterologously in CHO cells, KCNT1 channels carrying each variant showed gain-of-function effects, and were more effectively blocked by quinidine when compared to wild-type KCNT1 channels. On the basis of these in vitro results, add-on quinidine treatment was started at 3 and 16 months of age in patients 1 and 2, respectively. The results obtained reveal that quinidine significantly reduced seizure burden (by about 90%) and improved quality of life in both patients, but failed to normalize developmental milestones, which persisted as severely delayed. Based on the present experience, early quinidine intervention associated with heart monitoring and control of blood levels is among the critical factors for therapy effectiveness in EIMFS patients with KCNT1 gain-of-function mutations. Multicenter studies are needed to establish a consensus protocol for patient recruitment, quinidine treatment modalities, and outcome evaluation, to optimize clinical efficacy and reduce risks as well as variability associated to quinidine use in such severe developmental encephalopathy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1112-1126
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2018



  • Developmental encephalopathy
  • Epilepsy of infancy with migrating focal seizures (EIMFS)
  • KCNT1
  • Quinidine
  • Therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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