Clinical severity is correlated with age at seizure onset and biophysical properties of recurrent gain of function variants associated with SCN8A-related epilepsy

Kyung Mi Chung, Joshua Hack, Jennifer Andrews, Maureen Galindo-Kelly, John Schreiber, Joseph Watkins, Michael F Hammer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Genetic variants in the SCN8A gene underlie a wide spectrum of neurodevelopmental phenotypes including several distinct seizure types and a host of comorbidities. One of the major challenges facing clinicians and researchers alike is to identify genotype–phenotype (G-P) correlations that may improve prognosis, guide treatment decisions, and lead to precision medicine approaches. Methods: We investigated G-P correlations among 270 participants harboring gain-of-function (GOF) variants enrolled in the International SCN8A Registry, a patient-driven online database. We performed correlation analyses stratifying the cohort by clinical phenotypes to identify diagnostic features that differ among patients with varying levels of clinical severity, and that differ among patients with distinct GOF variants. Results: Our analyses confirm positive correlations between age at seizure onset and developmental skills acquisition (developmental quotient), rate of seizure freedom, and percentage of cohort with developmental delays, and identify negative correlations with number of current and weaned antiseizure medications. This set of features is more detrimentally affected in individuals with a priori expectations of more severe clinical phenotypes. Our analyses also reveal a significant correlation between a severity index combining clinical features of individuals with a particular highly recurrent variant and an independent electrophysiological score assigned to each variant based on in vitro testing. Significance: This is one of the first studies to identify statistically significant G-P correlations for individual SCN8A variants with GOF properties. The results suggest that individual GOF variants (1) are predictive of clinical severity for individuals carrying those variants and (2) may underlie distinct clinical phenotypes of SCN8A disease, thus helping to explain the wide SCN8A-related epilepsy disease spectrum. These results also suggest that certain features present at initial diagnosis are predictive of clinical severity, and with more informed treatment plans, may serve to improve prognosis for patients with SCN8A GOF variants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3365-3376
Number of pages12
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • antiseizure medications
  • developmental delay
  • genotype–phenotype correlations
  • infantile spasms
  • ion channel function
  • neonatal seizures
  • pediatric epilepsy
  • sodium channelopathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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