Efficacy of sodium channel blockers in SCN2A early infantile epileptic encephalopathy

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Background: Recent clinical evidence supports a targeted therapeutic approach for genetic epileptic encephalopathies based on the molecular dysfunction. Patient description: A 2. -day. -old male infant presented with epileptic encephalopathy characterized by burst-suppression EEG background and tonic-clonic migrating partial seizures. The condition was refractory to phenobarbital, pyridoxine, pyridoxal phosphate and levetiracetam, but a dramatic response to an intravenous loading dose of phenytoin was documented by video-EEG monitoring. Over weeks phenytoin was successfully switched to carbamazepine to prevent seizure relapses associated with difficulty in maintaining proper blood levels of phenytoin. Genetic analysis identified a novel de novo heterozygous mutation (c.[4633A>G]p.[Met1545Val]) in . SCN2A. At two years and three months of age the patient is still seizure-free on carbamazepine, although a developmental delay is evident. Conclusions: Sodium channel blockers represent the first-line treatment for confirmed or suspected . SCN2A-related epileptic encephalopathies. In severe cases with compatible electro-clinical features we propose a treatment algorithm based on a test trial with high dose intravenous phenytoin followed in case of a positive response by carbamazepine, more suitable for long-term maintenance treatment. Because of their rarity, collaborative studies are needed to delineate shared therapeutic protocols for EIEE based on the electro-clinical features and the presumed underlying genetic substrate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-348
JournalBrain and Development
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Carbamazepine
  • Early infantile epileptic encephalopathy
  • Phenytoin
  • SCN2A
  • Sodium channel blockers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology


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