Clinical and genetic analysis in alternating hemiplegia of childhood: ten new patients from Southern Europe

J Neurol Sci. 2014 Sep 15;344(1-2):37-42. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2014.06.014. Epub 2014 Jun 17.


Alternating hemiplegia of childhood (AHC) is a rare neurodevelopmental disorder featuring attacks of hemiplegia and other paroxysmal and non-paroxysmal manifestations leading to progressive neurological impairment. De novo mutations in ATP1A3 have been identified in up to 80% of patients. AHC is also associated with rare mutations in other genes involved in episodic neurological disorders. We sought to find mutations in ATP1A3, CACNA1A, ATP1A2, SCN1A and SLC2A1 in a cohort of ten unrelated patients from Spain and Greece. All patients fulfilled AHC diagnostic criteria. All five genes were amplified by PCR and Sanger sequenced. Copy number variation (CNV) analysis of SLC2A1 and CACNA1A was performed using two different approaches. We identified three previously described heterozygous missense ATP1A3 mutations (p.Asp801Asn, p.Glu815Lys and p.Gly947Arg) in five patients. No disease-causing mutations were found in the remaining genes. All mutations occurred de novo; carriers presented on average earlier than non-carriers. Intellectual disability was more severe with the p.Glu815Lys variant. A p.Gly947Arg carrier harbored a maternally-inherited CACNA1A p.Ala454Thr variant. Of note, three of our patients exhibited remarkable clinical responses to the ketogenic diet. We confirmed ATP1A3 mutations in half of our patients. Further AHC genetic studies will need to investigate large rearrangements in ATP1A3 or consider greater genetic heterogeneity than previously suspected.

Keywords: ATP1A3; Alternating hemiplegia of childhood; CACNA1A; Genetics; Ketogenic diet; Neurodevelopmental syndrome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • DNA Copy Number Variations / genetics*
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Diet, Ketogenic / methods*
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Greece
  • Hemiplegia / diet therapy*
  • Hemiplegia / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Molecular
  • Sodium-Potassium-Exchanging ATPase / genetics*


  • ATP1A3 protein, human
  • Sodium-Potassium-Exchanging ATPase

Supplementary concepts

  • Alternating hemiplegia of childhood