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Brain Dev. 2009 May;31(5):394-400. doi: 10.1016/j.braindev.2009.01.001. Epub 2009 Feb 8.

Dravet syndrome or genetic (generalized) epilepsy with febrile seizures plus?

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Department of Medicine, The University of Melbourne, Austin Health, Victoria, Australia.


Dravet syndrome and genetic epilepsy with febrile seizures plus (GEFS+) can both arise due to mutations of SCN1A, the gene encoding the alpha 1 pore-forming subunit of the sodium channel. GEFS+ refers to a familial epilepsy syndrome where at least two family members have phenotypes that fit within the GEFS+ spectrum. The GEFS+ spectrum comprises a range of mild to severe phenotypes varying from classical febrile seizures to Dravet syndrome. Dravet syndrome is a severe infantile onset epilepsy syndrome with multiple seizure types, developmental slowing and poor outcome. More than 70% of patients with Dravet syndrome have mutations of SCN1A; these include both truncation and missense mutations. In contrast, only 10% of GEFS+ families have SCN1A mutations and these comprise missense mutations. GEFS+ has also been associated with mutations of genes encoding the sodium channel beta 1 subunit, SCN1B, and the GABA(A) receptor gamma 2 subunit, GABRG2. The phenotypic heterogeneity that is characteristic of GEFS+ families is likely to be due to modifier genes. Interpretation of the significance of a SCN1A missense mutation requires a thorough understanding of the phenotypes in the GEFS+ spectrum whereas a de novo truncation mutation is likely to be associated with a severe phenotype. Early recognition of Dravet syndrome is important as aggressive control of seizures may improve developmental outcome.

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