The spectrum of pyridoxine dependent epilepsy across the age span: A nationwide retrospective observational study

Epilepsy Res. 2023 Feb;190:107099. doi: 10.1016/j.eplepsyres.2023.107099. Epub 2023 Jan 27.


Background: Pyridoxine-dependent epilepsy (PDE) is a rare seizure disorder usually presenting with neonatal seizures. Most cases are caused by biallelic pathogenic ALDH7A1variants. While anti-seizure medications are ineffective, pyridoxine provides seizure control, and dietary interventions may be of benefit. As the natural history beyond adolescence is insufficiently explored, our study aimed to assess the spectrum of PDE at various ages in Norway.

Methods: Patients were ascertained by contacting all Norwegian paediatric, neurological, and neurohabilitation departments and relevant professional societies. Medical records were collected and reviewed.

Results: We identified 15 patients treated for PDE; 13 had ALDH7A1 variants (PDE-ALDH7A1), one had PNPO deficiency, and in one, aetiology remained obscure. Of those with PDE-ALDH7A1, 12 were alive at time of study; five were > 18 years old and six were < 4 years. Median age was 10 years (range 2 months-53 years). Estimated minimum prevalence was 6.3/million among children and 1.2/million among adults. Ten had seizure onset on the first day of life. Perinatal complications and neuroradiological abnormalities suggested additional seizure aetiologies in several patients. Pyridoxine had immediate effect in six, while six had delayed (>1 h) or uncertain effect. Median delay from first seizure to continuous treatment was 11 days (range 0-42). Nine experienced breakthrough seizures with intercurrent disease or due to pyridoxine discontinuation. Cognitive outcomes ranged from normal to severe intellectual disability. The condition appeared to remain stable in adult life.

Significance: We found a much higher prevalence of PDE-ALDH7A1 in children relative to adults, suggesting previous underdiagnosis and early mortality. Perinatal complications are common and can delay diagnosis and initiation of pyridoxine treatment. Lifelong and continuous treatment with pyridoxine is imperative. Due to better diagnostics and survival, the number of adult patients is expected to rise.

Keywords: ALDH7A1; Epidemiology; Genetic variant; PNPO; Prognosis; Treatment.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aldehyde Dehydrogenase / genetics
  • Aldehyde Dehydrogenase / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Epilepsy* / drug therapy
  • Epilepsy* / epidemiology
  • Epilepsy* / genetics
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation
  • Pyridoxine* / therapeutic use
  • Young Adult


  • Aldehyde Dehydrogenase
  • Pyridoxine

Supplementary concepts

  • Pyridoxine-dependent epilepsy