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Retrospective observational study to determine diagnostic yield and utility of genetic testing in children with epilepsy attending the Epilepsy Clinic at Children’s Hospital, London, Ontario, Canada.
Children (birth–18 years) with epilepsy, who were seen in a 10-year period (January 1, 2008–March 31, 2018), were selected using defined inclusion criteria and by combining clinic datasets and laboratory records.
In total, 105 children (52.38% male and 47.61% female) with a variety of seizures were included in the analysis. Developmental delay was documented in the majority (83; 79.04%). Overall, a genetic diagnosis was established in 24 (22.85%) children. The diagnostic yield was highest for whole-exome sequencing (WES), at 35.71%. The yield from microarray was 8.33%. Yields of single-gene testing (18.60%) and targeted multigene panel testing (19.23%) were very similar. Several likely pathogenic and pathogenic variants not previously reported were identified and categorized using ACMG criteria. All diagnosed patients underwent a review of anti-seizure medication management and received counseling on natural history of their disease, possible complications, recurrence risks, and possibilities of preimplantation or prenatal genetic diagnosis.
Our study confirms the multiple benefits of detecting a genetic etiology in children with epilepsy. Similar yields in single versus multigene testing underscore the importance of accurate clinical phenotyping. Patients with epilepsy and their caregivers in Ontario would undoubtedly benefit from repatriation of multigene panels and WES to the province.
Epilepsy is a common neurological condition that shows a marked genetic predisposition. The advent of next-generation sequencing (NGS) has transformed clinical genetic testing by allowing the rapid screen for causative variants in multiple genes. There are currently no NGS-based multigene panel diagnostic tests available for epilepsy as a licensed clinical diagnostic test in Ontario, Canada. Eligible patient samples are sent out of country for testing by commercial laboratories, which incurs significant cost to the public healthcare system.
An expert Working Group of medical geneticists, pediatric neurologists/epileptologists, biochemical geneticists, and clinical molecular geneticists from Ontario was formed by the Laboratories and Genetics Branch of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to develop a programmatic approach to implementing epilepsy panel testing as a provincial service.
The Working Group made several recommendations for testing to support the clinical delivery of care in Ontario. First, an extension of community healthcare outcomes-based program should be incorporated to inform and educate ordering providers when requesting and interpreting a genetic panel test. Second, any gene panel testing must be “evidence-based” and takes into account varied clinical indications to reduce the chance of uncertain and secondary results. Finally, an ongoing evaluative process was recommended to ensure continued test improvement for the future.
This epilepsy panel testing implementation plan will be a model for genetic care directed toward a specific set of conditions in the province and serve as a prototype for genetic testing for other genetically heterogeneous diseases.
We report three brothers born to consanguineous parents of Syrian descent, with a homozygous novel c.324G>A (p.W108*) mutation in PTRH2 that encodes peptidyl-tRNA hydrolase 2, causing infantile-onset multisystem neurologic, endocrine, and pancreatic disease (IMNEPD). We describe the core clinical features of postnatal microcephaly, motor and language delay with regression, ataxia, and hearing loss. Additional features include epileptic seizures, pancreatic insufficiency, and peripheral neuropathy. Clinical phenotyping enabled a targeted approach to the investigation and identification of a novel homozygous nonsense mutation in PTRH2, c.324G>A (p.W108*). We compare our patients with those recently described and review the current literature for IMNEPD.
Multiple genes/variants have been implicated in various epileptic conditions. However, there is little general guidance available on the circumstances in which genetic testing is indicated and test selection in order to guide optimal test appropriateness and benefit. This is an account of the development of guidelines for genetic testing in epilepsy, which have been developed in Ontario, Canada. The Genetic Testing Advisory Committee was established in Ontario to review the clinical utility and validity of genetic tests and the provision of genetic testing in Ontario. As part of their mandate, the committee also developed recommendations and guidelines for genetic testing in epilepsy. The recommendations include mandatory prerequisites for an epileptology/geneticist/clinical biochemical geneticist consultation, prerequisite diagnostic procedures, circumstances in which genetic testing is indicated and not indicated and guidance for selection of genetic tests, including their general limitations and considerations. These guidelines represent a step toward the development of evidence-based gene panels for epilepsy in Ontario, the repatriation of genetic testing for epilepsy into Ontario molecular genetic laboratories and public funding of genetic tests for epilepsy in Ontario.
Population-based studies are necessary to better understand the risk factors for developing seizure disorders and the impact of these conditions on children. We undertook an assessment of the prevalence of seizure disorders in a population of children on the basis of health care utilization records.
Using Manitoba’s population-based prescription and health care data for 1998/99, the prevalence of children with seizure disorders, on the basis of at least one physician visit or hospitalization for epilepsy or a prescription for an antiepileptic drug, was determined by age, urban/rural region and socioeconomic status. The latter was measured as neighbourhoods stratified by income quintiles according to Census data.
Age-specific prevalence rates for seizure disorders in Manitoba children, determined from health care administrative records, were similar to published data on the prevalence of epilepsy, with one exception. Prevalence rates in adolescents were higher than those reported in the literature. No statistically significant differences in prevalence rates were observed between urban and rural populations. However, a higher prevalence was found among children of all ages living in lower socioeconomic neighbourhoods in urban areas, which presented as a gradient of increased prevalence with decreased levels of income.
Population-based health care administrative data can be used to describe the geographical distribution of seizure disorders. Our data suggest that the burden of seizure disorders is not evenly distributed among children.
Epileptic encephalopathies presenting in early life present a diagnostic and therapeutic challenge. These disorders present with multiple seizure types that are treatment resistant and associated with significant abnormalities on electroencephalographic studies. The underlying etiology in many cases may be related to an inborn error of metabolism. Efforts to establish the specific diagnosis of a genetic defect or an inborn error of metabolism often results in requests for a vast array of biochemical and molecular tests leading to an expensive workup. In this review, we present the clinician with information that provides a rationale for a selective and nuanced approach to biochemical assays, and initial treatment strategies while waiting for a specific diagnosis to be established. A careful consideration of the presentation, identification of potentially treatable conditions, and consultation with the biochemical genetics laboratory can lead to a greater measure of success while limiting cost overruns. Such a targeted approach is hoped will lead to an early diagnosis and appropriate interventions.
Multiple sulfatase deficiency (MSD) is a rare autosomal recessive inborn error of lysosomal metabolism. The clinical phenotypic spectrum encompasses overlapping features of variable severity and is suggestive of individual single sulfatase deficiencies (i.e., metachromatic leukodystrophy, mucopolysaccharidosis, and X-linked ichthyosis).
We describe a 3-year-old male with severe hypotonia, developmental regression and progressive neurodegeneration, coarse facial features, nystagmus (from ocular albinism), and dysmyelinating motor sensory neuropathy. Ethics approval was obtained from the Western University Ontario.
Extensive investigative work-up identified deficiencies of multiple sulfatases: heparan sulfate sulfamidase: 6.5 nmoles/mg/protein/17 hour (reference 25.0-75.0), iduronate-2-sulfate sulfatase: 9 nmol/mg/protein/4 hour (reference 31-110), and arylsulfatase A: 3.8 nmoles/hr/mg protein (reference 22-50). The identification of compound heterozygous pathogenic mutations in the SUMF1 gene c.836 C>T (p.A279V) and c.1045C>T (p.R349W) confirmed the diagnosis of MSD.
The complex clinical manifestations of MSD and the unrelated coexistence of ocular albinism as in our case can delay diagnosis. Genetic counselling should be provided to all affected families.
The epileptic encephalopathies of infancy are a group of disorders characterized by intractable seizures, persistent abnormality of cortical function documented on EEG, and consequently impaired neuro-developmental outcomes. The etiologies vary and include; structural brain malformations, acquired brain insults, and inborn errors of metabolism in the majority of the affected patients. In a proportion of these cases no obvious etiology is identifiable on investigation. Recent advances in molecular diagnostics have led to the discovery of a number of gene defects that may be causal in many epileptic encephalopathies. Identification of the causative mutation is important for prognostic and genetic counseling, and may also carry treatment implications. The recently described genes include; Cyclin-Dependent Kinase-Like 5 gene (CDKL5), Protocadherin 19 (PCDH19), Sodium channel neuronal type 1a subunit gene (SCN1A), Aristaless-Related Homeobox Gene (ARX), and Syntaxin binding protein 1 gene (STXBP1), amongst others. Distinct electro-clinical syndromes are increasingly being identified amongst patients carrying the various mutations. In this review, we outline the approach to clinical evaluation and genetic testing of epileptic encephalopathies in infancy.
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