The electrophysiological footprint of CACNA1A disorders.

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CACNA1A variants underlie three neurological disorders: familial hemiplegic migraine type 1 (FHM1), episodic ataxia type 2 (EA2) and spinocerebellar ataxia type 6 (SCA6). EEG is applied to study their episodic manifestations, but findings in the intervals did not gain attention up to date.We analyzed repeated EEG recordings performed between 1994 and 2019 in a large cohort of genetically confirmed CACNA1A patients. EEG findings were compared with those of CACNA1A-negative phenocopies. A review of the related literature was performed.85 EEG recordings from 38 patients (19 EA2, 14 FHM1, 5 SCA6) were analyzed. Baseline EEG was abnormal in 55% of cases (12 EA2, 9 FHM1). The most common finding was a lateralized intermittent slowing, mainly affecting the temporal region. Slowing was more pronounced after a recent attack but was consistently detected in the majority of patients also during the follow-up. Interictal epileptic discharges (IEDs) were detected in eight patients (7 EA2,1 FHM1). EEG abnormalities and especially IEDs were significantly associated with younger age at examination (16 ± 9 vs 43 ± 21 years in those without epileptic changes, p = 0.003) and with earlier onset of disease (1 (1-2) vs 12 (5-45) years, p = 0.0009). EEG findings in CACNA1A-negative phenocopies (n = 15) were largely unremarkable (p = 0.03 in the comparison with CACNA1A patients).EEG abnormalities between attacks are highly prevalent in episodic CACNA1A disorders and especially associated with younger age at examination and earlier disease onset. Our findings underpin an age-dependent effect of CACNA1A variants, with a more severe impairment when P/Q channel dysfunction manifests early in life.


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