Spectrum of phenotypes in female patients with epilepsy due to protocadherin 19 mutations

Epilepsia. 2011 Jul;52(7):1251-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2011.03063.x. Epub 2011 Apr 11.


Purpose: To describe clinical and neuropsychological features of six consecutive sporadic girls with protocadherin 19 (PCDH19) mutations.

Methods: Following recent descriptions of PCDH19 mutation in girls with epilepsy, we sequenced this gene in patients with infantile or early childhood seizures onset, either focal or generalized, without an obvious etiology.

Key findings: Mean age at the time of the study was 13.5 ± 11 years. Mean age at seizure onset was 15.5 ± 11 months (range 9-38). All patients experienced clusters of either focal or generalized seizures, precipitated during febrile illness in five patients. Attacks were very frequent at onset, but they became less numerous during follow-up. Ictal electroencephalography (EEG) showed temporal lobe involvement in five patients. Periictal EEG showed focal or multifocal epileptiform and slow abnormalities. Cognitive impairment became obvious after seizure onset in three patients and was associated with autistic features in two. Genetic analysis revealed five new and one known de novo PCDH19 mutation that were missense in four and frameshift in two. Variants are clustered in the large exon 1, corresponding to the extracellular domain of the PCDH19 protein.

Significance: Our findings emphasize that de novo PCDH19 mutations are associated with infantile or early childhood onset of febrile or afebrile seizures often occurring in clusters. Cognitive impairment is not constantly present and autistic features are observed in some patients. Most patients have a "stormy" seizure onset, often related to fever; however, seizure severity does not clearly correlate with the degree of cognitive deficit. PCDH19 is likely a major epilepsy gene; phenotypes associated with mutations of this gene range from epileptic encephalopathies to mild epilepsy, yet large series of patients will be necessary to fully delineate phenotypic spectrum.

MeSH terms

  • Age of Onset
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Cadherins / genetics*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy / genetics*
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Frameshift Mutation / genetics
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Mutation, Missense / genetics
  • Phenotype
  • Protocadherins
  • Seizures / genetics


  • Cadherins
  • PCDH19 protein, human
  • Protocadherins