Background Progressive encephalopathy, hypsarrhythmia and optic atrophy (PEHO) has been described as a clinically distinct syndrome. It has been postulated that it is an autosomal recessive condition. However, the aetiology is poorly understood, and the genetic basis of the condition has not been fully elucidated. Our objective was to discover if PEHO syndrome is a single gene disorder.
Method Children with PEHO and PEHO-like syndrome were recruited. Clinical, neurological and dysmorphic features were recorded; EEG reports and MRI scans were reviewed. Where possible, exome sequencing was carried out first to seek mutations in known early infantile developmental and epileptic encephalopathy (DEE) genes and then to use an agnostic approach to seek novel candidate genes. We sought intra–interfamilial phenotypic correlations and genotype–phenotype correlations when pathological mutations were identified.
Results Twenty-three children were recruited from a diverse ethnic background, 19 of which were suitable for inclusion. They were similar in many of the core and the supporting features of PEHO, but there was significant variation in MRI and ophthalmological findings, even between siblings with the same mutation. A pathogenic genetic variant was identified in 15 of the 19 children. One further girl’s DNA failed analysis, but her two affected sisters shared confirmed variants. Pathogenic variants were identified in seven different genes.
Conclusions We found significant clinical and genetic heterogeneity. Given the intrafamily variation demonstrated, we question whether the diagnostic criteria for MRI and ophthalmic findings should be altered. We also question whether PEHO and PEHO-like syndrome represent differing points on a clinical spectrum of the DEE. We conclude that PEHO and PEHO-like syndrome are clinically and genetically diverse entities—and are phenotypic endpoints of many severe genetic encephalopathies.
- epilepsy and seizures
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Contributors MC, BD-D, HH, ELW, AFB, SMZ, MS, APJP and CGW ascertained and clinically characterised cases. MC, APJP and CGW contributed to the planning, conducting and reporting of the work described in the article and will be the overall guarantors. MSN, KS and CGW carried out the molecular genetic work. BD-D and HH contributed to the writing of the manuscript. ELW, AFB, SMZ and MS helped in revising and editing the manuscript.
Funding MSN received funding from Wellcome Trust. CGW was supported in this research by Cambridge NIHR Biomedical Research Centre.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent Obtained.
Ethics approval Cambridge Research Ethics Committee.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.