Severe neonatal non-dystrophic myotonia secondary to a novel mutation of the voltage-gated sodium channel (SCN4A) gene

Am J Med Genet A. 2008 Feb 1;146A(3):380-3. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.a.32141.


We report on a patient with a severe, rare neonatal form of non-dystrophic myotonia. The patient presented with facial dysmorphism, muscle hypertrophy, severe constipation, psychomotor delay, and frequent cold-induced episodes of myotonia and muscle weakness leading to severe hypoxia and loss of consciousness. Muscle biopsy was non-specific and electromyography revealed intense generalized myotonia. The myotonic episodes improved after introducing oral mexiletine and maintaining room temperature at 28 degrees C. The patient died at 20 months of age following a bronchopulmonary infection. A previously undescribed de novo heterozygous c.3891C > A change, which predicts p.N1297K in the SCN4A gene. Mutations within the voltage-gated sodium channel alpha-subunit gene (SCN4A) have been described in association with several phenotypes including paramyotonia congenita, hyperkalemic or hypokalemic periodic paralysis, and potassium-aggravated myotonias. The cold-sensitive episodes of stiffness followed by weakness suggested the diagnosis of channelopathy in our patient. However, her neonatal onset, the triggering of severe episodes by exposure to modest decreases in temperature, involvement of respiratory muscles with prolonged apnea, early-onset muscle hypertrophy, psychomotor retardation, and fatal outcome are evocative of a distinct clinical subtype. Our observation expands the phenotypic spectrum of sodium channelopathies.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Myotonia Congenita / diagnosis
  • Myotonia Congenita / etiology
  • Myotonia Congenita / genetics*
  • Myotonia Congenita / physiopathology
  • NAV1.4 Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel
  • Sodium Channels / genetics*


  • NAV1.4 Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel
  • SCN4A protein, human
  • Sodium Channels