Rett Syndrome Spectrum in Monogenic Developmental-Epileptic Encephalopathies and Epilepsies: A Review

Genes (Basel). 2021 Jul 28;12(8):1157. doi: 10.3390/genes12081157.


Introduction: Progress in the clinical application of next-generation-sequencing-based techniques has resulted in a dramatic increase in the recognized genetic heterogeneity of the Rett syndrome spectrum (RSS). Our awareness of the considerable overlap with pediatric-onset epilepsies and epileptic/developmental encephalopathies (EE/DE) genes is also growing, and the presence of variable clinical features inside a general frame of commonalities has drawn renewed attention into deep phenotyping.

Methods: We decided to review the medical literature on atypical Rett syndrome and "Rett-like" phenotypes, with special emphasis on described cases with pediatric-onset epilepsies and/or EE-DE, evaluating Neul's criteria for Rett syndrome and associated movement disorders and notable stereotypies.

Results: "Rett-like" features were described in syndromic and non-syndromic monogenic epilepsy- and DE/EE-related genes, in "intellectual disability plus epilepsy"-related genes and in neurodegenerative disorders. Additionally, prominent stereotypies can be observed in monogenic complex neurodevelopmental disorders featuring epilepsy with or without autistic features outside of the RSS.

Conclusions: Patients share a complex neurodevelopmental and neurological phenotype (developmental delay, movement disorder) with impaired gait, abnormal tone and hand stereotypies. However, the presence and characteristics of regression and loss of language and functional hand use can differ. Finally, the frequency of additional supportive criteria and their distribution also vary widely.

Keywords: Rett syndrome; Rett syndrome spectrum; Rett-like; epilepsy; epileptic and developmental encephalopathies; movements disorders; neurogenetics; stereotypies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Diseases / complications
  • Brain Diseases / genetics*
  • Epilepsy / complications
  • Epilepsy / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Rett Syndrome / complications
  • Rett Syndrome / genetics*