Dravet syndrome: Seizure control and gait in adults with different SCN1A mutations

Jennifer J. Rilstone, Fernando M. Coelho, Berge A. Minassian, Danielle M. Andrade

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Summary Purpose: Dravet syndrome (DS) is an aggressive epileptic encephalopathy. Pharmacoresistant seizures of several types plague most patients with DS throughout their lives. Gait difficulties are a common, but inconsistent finding. The majority of cases are caused by mutations in the SCN1A gene, but little information is available about how particular mutations influence the adult phenotype. The purpose of this study is to correlate different types of SCN1A mutations and (1) seizure control, (2) occurrence of convulsive status epilepticus (cSE), and (3) the presence of crouch gait in adult patients. Methods: In a cohort of 10 adult patients with DS caused by SCN1A mutations, we investigated seizure frequency, history of cSE, and gait. All patients were identified in the epilepsy clinic between 2009 and 2011. SCN1A mutations were divided into four different groups based on location or effect of the mutation. Retrospective chart review and recent physical examination were completed in all cases. Key Findings: All patients had a pathogenic mutation in the SCN1A gene. Four SCN1A mutations have not been described previously. Greater than 90% seizure reduction was observed (compared to childhood frequency) in six of seven patients with missense mutations in the pore-forming region (PFR) of the Na v1.1 protein (group A) and nonsense mutations (group B). One patient with a splice-site mutation (group C) and another with a mutation outside the PFR (group D) became free of all types of seizures. cSE after the age of 19 years was observed in only one patient. Crouch gait, without spasticity, is identified as an element of the adult DS phenotype. However, only one half of our adult DS cohort demonstrated crouch gait. This feature was observed in five of seven patients from groups A and B. Significance: This study shows that seizure control improves and cSE become less frequent in DS as patients age, independent of their SCN1A mutation type. Complete seizure freedom was seen in two patients (groups C and D). Finally, this study shows that in DS, crouch gait can be observed in up to 50% of adults with SCN1A mutation. Although no definite statistical correlations could be made due to the small number of patients, it is interesting to note that crouch gait was observed only in those patients with nonsense mutations or mutations in the PFR. Future studies with larger cohorts will be required to formally assess an association of gait abnormalities with particular SCN1A mutations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1421-1428
Number of pages8
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • Ataxia
  • Crouch gait
  • Dravet syndrome
  • Genotype
  • Pore-forming region
  • SCN1A
  • Seizures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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