Hereditary Hyperekplexia: A New Family and a Systematic Review of GLRA1 Gene-Related Phenotypes

Pediatr Neurol. 2022 Jul:132:45-49. doi: 10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2022.05.002. Epub 2022 May 17.


Hereditary hyperekplexia (HPX) is a genetic neurodevelopmental disorder recently defined by the triad of (1) neonatal hypertonia, (2) excessive startle reflexes, and (3) generalized stiffness following the startle. Defects in GLRA1 are the most common cause of HPX, inherited both in an autosomal dominant and autosomal recessive manner. GLRA1 mutations can also cause milder phenotypes in the startle syndromes spectrum, but the prevalence is uncertain and no clear genotype-phenotype correlation has emerged yet. Moreover, the prevalence of neurodevelopmental outcomes has not been clearly defined. Here we report a new family of patients with a typical HPX phenotype, linked to a novel GLRA1 mutation, inherited with a recessive pattern. We then perform a systematic review of the literature of GLRA1-related HPX, describing the main epidemiological features of 210 patients. We found that GLRA1-related phenotypes do not necessarily fulfill the current criteria for HPX, including also milder and later-onset phenotypes. Among clinical features of the disease, neurodevelopmental issues were reported in a third of the sample; interestingly, we found that these problems, particularly when severe, were more common in homozygous than in heterozygous patients. Additional clinical and preclinical studies are needed to define predictors of adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes and underlying mechanisms.

Keywords: GLRA1; Genotype-phenotype; Glycine; Hyperekplexia; Neurodevelopment; Startle.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Muscle Rigidity
  • Phenotype
  • Receptors, Glycine / genetics
  • Reflex, Startle / genetics
  • Stiff-Person Syndrome* / genetics


  • Receptors, Glycine

Supplementary concepts

  • Hyperexplexia hereditary