Italian Journal of Pediatrics (Jul 2020)

Targeted re-sequencing for early diagnosis of genetic causes of childhood epilepsy: the Italian experience from the ‘beyond epilepsy’ project

  • Elisabetta Amadori,
  • Marcello Scala,
  • Giulia Sofia Cereda,
  • Maria Stella Vari,
  • Francesca Marchese,
  • Veronica Di Pisa,
  • Maria Margherita Mancardi,
  • Thea Giacomini,
  • Laura Siri,
  • Fabiana Vercellino,
  • Domenico Serino,
  • Alessandro Orsini,
  • Alice Bonuccelli,
  • Irene Bagnasco,
  • Amanda Papa,
  • Carlo Minetti,
  • Duccio Maria Cordelli,
  • Pasquale Striano

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 46, no. 1
pp. 1 – 9


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Abstract Background Childhood epilepsies are a heterogeneous group of conditions differing in diagnostic criteria, management, and outcome. Late-infantile neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis type 2 (CLN2) is a neurodegenerative condition caused by biallelic TPP1 variants. This disorder presents with subtle and relatively non-specific symptoms, mimicking those observed in more common paediatric epilepsies and followed by rapid psychomotor deterioration and drug-resistant epilepsy. A prompt diagnosis is essential to adopt appropriate treatment and disease management strategies. Methods This is a prospective, multicentre study on the efficiency of targeted re-sequencing in the early identification of the genetic causes of childhood epilepsy, with particular regard to CLN2. After phenotypic characterization, a 283-gene Next Generation Sequencing panel was performed in 21 Italian children with neurodevelopmental abnormalities, aged between 24 and 60 months, experiencing first unprovoked seizure after 2 years of age. Results The average age at enrolment was 39.9 months, with a mean age at seizure onset of 30.9 months and a mean time interval between seizure onset and targeted resequencing of 9 months. Genetic confirmation was achieved in 4 out of 21 patients, with a diagnostic yield of 19%. In one case, the homozygous splice acceptor variant c.509-1G > C in TPP1 was identified, leading to a CLN2 diagnosis. Three pathogenic variants in MECP2 were also detected in three patients, including the frameshift variant c.1157_1186delinsA (p.Leu386Hisfs*9) in a girl with negative single gene sequencing. Variants of unknown significance (VUS) were found in 11 out of 21 (52.4%) individuals, whereas no clinically significant variants were observed in the remaining 6 subjects. Conclusions Our findings support the efficacy of target re-sequencing in the identification of the genetic causes of childhood epilepsy and suggest that this technique might prove successful in the early detection of CLN2 as well as other neurodevelopmental conditions.