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Neuropediatrics. 2003 Jun;34(3):113-9.

The Kleine-Levin syndrome - effects of treatment with lithium -.

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  • 1Department of Neuropediatrics, Technical University Dresden, Dresden, Germany.


Kleine-Levin syndrome (KLS) is a rare disorder which affects mainly adolescents. Periods of extreme somnolence alternate with megaphagia, psychomental changes and behavioural symptoms. The cause and pathogenesis of KLS remains unknown. Several treatments have been tried and recently lithium has been proposed for a prophylactic use in single cases. In view of the rarity of KLS, long-term results of lithium therapy have not been described yet. We report the clinical course of five adolescents with KLS who were treated with lithium. All patients showed significant EEG and polysomnographic changes during the episodes and had normal results in the interval. All patients had relapses while being treated with lithium. But episodes of hypersomnia under lithium therapy were shorter and monosymptomatic with lack of behavioural symptoms. Statistical modelling showed that the risk for a relapsing episode under maintenance of lithium drops per months of therapy from 100 % to 93 %, and furthermore that the maintenance of lithium shortens the mean duration of episodes to 19 %. No severe side effects were observed. In conclusion, in KLS with a high frequency of episodes and severe behavioural changes lithium may become a treatment option.

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