Donatella Lettori

Catholic University of the Sacred Heart , Milano, Lombardy, Italy

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Publications (25)55.03 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Cognitive and behavioral difficulties occur in approximately a third of patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The aim of our study was to assess the prevalence of epilepsy in a cohort of 222 DMD patients. Epileptic seizures were found in 14 of the 222 DMD patients (6.3%). The age of onset ranged from 3months to 16years (mean 7.8). Seizures were more often focal epilepsy (n=6), generalized tonic-clonic seizures (n=4) or absences (n=4). They were present in 12 of the 149 boys with normal IQ (8.1%) and in two of the 73 with mental retardation (2.7%). In two cases the parents did not report any past or present history of seizures but only 'staring episodes' interpreted as a sign of 'poor attention'. In both patients EEG showed the typical pattern observed in childhood absence epilepsy. Our results suggest that the prevalence of epilepsy in our study (6.3%) is higher than in the general pediatric population (0.5-1%). The risk of epilepsy does not appear to increase in patients with mental retardation.
    Neuromuscular Disorders 02/2013; · 3.46 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE: To perform a clinical and genetic study of a family with benign familial infantile seizures (BFIS) and, upon finding a PRRT2 gene mutation, to study a cohort of probands with a similar phenotype. We extended the study to all available family members to find out whether PRRT2 mutations cosegregated with additional symptoms. METHODS: We carried out a clinical and genealogic study of a 3-generation family and of 32 additional probands with BFIS (11 families), infantile convulsions and paroxysmal choreoathetosis (ICCA) (9 families), BFIS/generalized epilepsy with febrile seizures plus (5 families), and sporadic benign neonatal or infantile seizures (7 probands/families). We performed a genetic study consisting of linkage analysis and PRRT2 screening of the 33 probands/families. RESULTS: We obtained a positive linkage in the 16p11.3-q23.1 chromosomal region in the large BFIS family. Mutation analysis of PRRT2 gene revealed a c.649dupC (p.Arg217Profs*8) in all affected individuals. PRRT2 analysis of the 32 additional probands showed mutations in 10, 8 familial and 2 sporadic, probands. Overall we found PRRT2 mutations in 11 probands with a mutation rate of 11 out of 33 (33%). BFIS co-occurred with migraine and febrile seizures in 2 families, with childhood absence epilepsy in one family and with hemiplegic migraine in one family. CONCLUSION: Our results confirm the predominant role of PRRT2 mutations in BFIS and expand the spectrum of PRRT2-associated phenotypes to include febrile seizures, childhood absence seizures, migraine, and hemiplegic migraine.
    Neurology 10/2012; · 8.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Pitt-Hopkins syndrome (PTHS) is an emerging condition characterized by severe intellectual disability (ID), typical facial gestalt, and additional features, such as breathing abnormalities. Because of the overlapping phenotype of severe ID with absent speech, epilepsy, microcephaly, large mouth, and constipation, differential diagnosis of PTHS with respect to Angelman, Rett, and Mowat-Wilson syndromes represents a relevant clinical issue, and many patients are currently undergoing genetic tests for different conditions that are assumed to fall within the PTHS clinical spectrum. During a search for TCF4 mutations in 78 patients with a suspected PTHS, haploinsufficiency of TCF4 was identified in 18. By evaluating clinical features of patients with a proven TCF4 mutation with those of patients without, we noticed that, in addition to the typical facial gestalt, the PTHS phenotype results from the various combination of the following characteristics: ID with severe speech impairment, normal growth parameters at birth, postnatal microcephaly, breathing abnormalities, motor incoordination, ocular anomalies, constipation, seizures, typical behavior, and subtle brain abnormalities. On the basis of these observations, here we propose a clinically based score system as useful tool for driving a first choice molecular test for PTHS. This scoring system is also proposed for a clinically based diagnosis of PTHS in absence of a proven TCF4 mutation.
    American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A 06/2012; 158A(7):1604-11. · 2.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to provide information on the neuropsychological evolution of children with symptomatic epilepsy who have undergone surgical resection of posterior (occipitoparietal) lesions. Twelve children with epilepsy with parietal and/or occipital lesions were enrolled in the study and followed after surgical resection: full clinical and epileptic examinations were performed before and after surgery, as was a neuropsychological study of both general and specific cognitive abilities. Epilepsy evolution was generally good (Engel classification IA in nine cases) with persistent selective neurological impairments (eye field defects, sensory unilateral spatial neglect) in some cases, consistent with the lesion site. Neuropsychological defects before surgery in the absence of refractory epilepsy were minimal with a normal global cognitive competence; yet, the relatively low performance scores with some impairment of specific cognitive skills were strictly correlated with defects in visual perceptive skills in both right- and left-sided lesions. Surgery seems to have improved performance abilities, whereas other abnormal specific skills did not change with the exception of working memory that in some cases was defective before surgery and normalized after lesion removal. Our study in this particular cohort of children with epileptogenic occipitoparietal lesions thus confirmed a trend toward a benign epileptic and neurodevelopmental outcome after surgical resection of the lesion.
    Epilepsy & Behavior 02/2012; 23(2):131-7. · 1.84 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Pitt-Hopkins syndrome (PTHS) is characterized by severe intellectual disability, typical facial gestalt and additional features, such as breathing anomalies. Following the discovery of the causative haploinsufficiency of transcription factor 4 (TCF4), about 60 patients have been reported. We looked for TCF4 mutations in 63 patients with a suspected PTHS. Haploinsufficiency of TCF4 was identified in 14 patients, as a consequence of large 18q21.2 chromosome deletions involving TCF4 (2 patients), gene mutations (11 patients) and a t(14q;18q) balanced translocation disrupting TCF4 (one patient). By evaluating the clinical features of these patients, along with literature data, we noticed that, in addition to the typical facial gestalt, the PTHS phenotype results from the various combinations of the following characteristics: intellectual disability with severe speech impairment, normal growth parameters at birth, postnatal microcephaly, breathing anomalies, motor incoordination, ocular anomalies, constipation, seizures, typical behavior and subtle brain abnormalities. Although PTHS is currently considered to be involved in differential diagnosis with Angelman and Rett syndromes, we found that combining the facial characteristics with a detailed analysis of both the physical and the neurological phenotype, made molecular testing for PTHS the first choice. Based on striking clinical criteria, a diagnosis of PTHS was made clinically in two patients who had normal TCF4. This report deals with the first series of PTHS patients of Italian origin.
    American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A 07/2011; 155A(7):1536-45. · 2.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Aim of this study is to report a detailed profile of neuropsychological development in children with Dravet syndrome. Twelve children with Dravet syndrome were longitudinally assessed using a detailed clinical and neuropsychological evaluation. Six had typical features of severe myoclonic epilepsy in infancy (SMEI) whereas the other six resulted borderline. All twelve underwent serial neuropsychological assessments with neurodevelopmental scales and further assessment of specific cognitive abilities. Our results reported an apparent normal development before disease onset, a general evolution in two main stages, more active the first one and with a general trend towards a clinical stabilization afterwards. The onset of cognitive decline was generally later than what is reported in other series; furthermore, the impairment of cognitive development is less severe, especially in borderline cases. As to specific cognitive competence, attention, visual motor integration, visual perception as well as executive functions are the most impaired abilities; language appears less involved, with a predominance of phonological defects. In our cohort the global development of patients appear less affected than in previous studies. Furthermore, our study points out an impairment of several specific cognitive skills even in patients with a developmental quotient apparently in the normal range. Language and other cognitive skill impairment such as attention, visuo-spatial organization, working memory and executive function appear consistent with what is usually found in cerebellar disorders.
    Epilepsy research 06/2011; 95(1-2):86-93. · 2.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: was to provide new data about the evolution of neuropsychological findings in patients with lesional frontal lobe epilepsy (FLE) operated on with lesion excision. Twelve patients with lesional FLE underwent full clinical examination including neurological, neuropsychological and developmental assessments, high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ictal and interictal prolonged EEG monitoring and evaluation of seizure semeiology before and after surgery. The mean follow-up duration was 2 years and 10 months (range=14 months-7 years). Another group of lesional temporal lobe epilepsy, matched for the age at surgery and side of surgery, was likewise studied in order to compare neuropsychological patterns and to try to find out specific features in frontal lobe epilepsy evolution. All patients resulted seizure free at outcome except one belonging to Engel's class II. Before surgery general intelligence was similar in FLE as well as in TLE group. Executive functions and motor coordination were frequently affected in FLE whereas patients with TLE often presented with deficits in naming, visual memory and visuo-spatial attention. After surgery there was a frequent decline of IQ in FLE group together with a slight deterioration, especially of executive functions in some patients. An improvement of behaviour was often observed in both groups. As already reported in literature, neuropsychological pre-surgical data confirms the involvement of attention and executive functions in lesional FLE. No significant neuropsychological improvement was produced by surgery that determined in some cases a slight decline of general intelligence and specific frontal abilities. Yet, generally behaviour improved and seizures were controlled.
    Brain & development 04/2011; 33(4):310-5. · 1.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Aim of the study was to describe prospectively the early neuropsychological evolution including the first pre-cognitive stages of the Severe Myoclonic Epilepsy in Infancy (SMEI) or Dravet syndrome. Five cases, four of whom since before a diagnostic evidence of the Dravet syndrome, were followed up. Full clinical assessment including developmental, visual function and behaviour assessments were serially performed. In four cases, a variable onset age of cognitive decline assessed with developmental scales was preceded some months before by an impairment of visual function; the remaining patient during all the course of follow-up till 51 months of age showed a normal development without visual impairment. A cognitive decline with variable onset was generally confirmed in Dravet syndrome. The previous early impairment of visual function seems to herald the cognitive decline and provides useful prognostic information; furthermore, it possibly suggests some clues for a better understanding of the mechanisms of cognitive deterioration in this syndrome.
    Epilepsy research 01/2011; 93(1):73-9. · 2.48 Impact Factor
  • European Journal of Paediatric Neurology - EUR J PAEDIATR NEUROL. 01/2011; 15.
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to assess behavioral aspects of visual function and visuoperceptual abilities in patients with Panayiotopoulos syndrome (PS), and their possible associations with clinical and electroencephalography (EEG) findings in order to establish the possible effect of interictal paroxysmal activity on visual performance. The cohort included 28 patients (14 male and 14 female) of ages ranging between 4 and 15 years. All patients underwent serial videopolygraphic studies and a detailed battery of tests assessing visual abilities, including assessment of acuity, stereopsis, visual fields, and visuoperceptual abilities; tests included the Movement Assessment Battery for Children, the Visuo Motor Integration tests, and evaluation of motion and form coherence threshold. On the assessment of visual function, only 4 of the 28 (15%) had abnormal crowding acuity and one had abnormal stereopsis. On the visuoperceptual assessment, one patient had abnormal results on the Visuo Motor Integration tests, and one on the Movement Assessment Battery for Children, whereas 4 (15%) had abnormal results for form coherence threshold and one for motion threshold. Our results suggest that, although most of our patients had focal or diffuse EEG abnormalities involving the occipital regions, abnormalities of visual and visuoperceptual function were relatively uncommon. Age at onset of seizure <5 years and EEG activation to eye closure and during sleep can be considered as factors that slightly increased the risk for developing visual abnormalities. Their presence, however, was not always associated with abnormal visual findings.
    Epilepsia 07/2010; 51(7):1205-11. · 3.96 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To try to prove in patients with refractory symptomatic epilepsy due to early brain injury involving thalamus and complicated by CSWS the effects of the isolation of the injured hemisphere, performed with functional hemisperectomy, on epilepsy, namely on CSWS. Full clinical follow-up before and after surgery of two cases with CSWS onset at four years in whom functional hemispherecomy was performed with resection of inter-hemispheric connections. An immediate effectiveness of the surgical treatment was observed on both epileptic evolution (no more seizures) and EEG abnormalities. In particular, CSWS completely disappeared, together with a concurrent progressive improving of the cognitive and behavioural disorders. The isolation of the injured hemisphere through the section of inter-hemispheric cortico-cortical connections could prevent the contralateral diffusion of discharges coming from the injured cortex and cortico-thalamic network, favouring a normal function of thalamo-cortico-thalamic circuitries in the healthy hemisphere. That could explain the disappearance of CSWS after surgery in our patients and the consequent improvement of cognitive abilities and behaviour.
    Epilepsy research 10/2009; 87(2-3):290-8. · 2.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The authors report the study of a 30-month-old girl with refractory myoclonic epilepsy associated with mental retardation, growth delay, peculiar facial appearance, and minor physical anomalies. Extensive genetic studies were performed, including an array-based comparative genomic hybridization (array-CGH) that showed a cryptic interstitial deletion of 15q (5 Mb) affecting the 15q26.1-26.2 region. Partial deletions of the long arm of chromosome 15, including the 15q26 region, were observed in syndromic associations that typically include congenital diaphragmatic hernia, but neurologic features were poorly described and epileptic seizures were never reported. Our findings suggest that genes for seizures could be included in the 15q26.1q26.2 deletion interval.
    Epilepsia 05/2009; 50(7):1810-5. · 3.96 Impact Factor
  • European Journal of Paediatric Neurology - EUR J PAEDIATR NEUROL. 01/2009; 13.
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    ABSTRACT: The authors report their experience about a neuro-cognitive and epileptic long-term follow-up of children with catastrophic epilepsy treated with hemispherectomy in the first 5 years of life. Nineteen children with resistant epilepsy that significantly interfered with their neuro-cognitive development underwent hemispherectomy within 5 years of life (mean: 2 years, 3 months; range: 5 months to 5 years). All patients were assessed before surgery and after, at least at the end of the follow-up (mean: 6 years and 6 months; range: 2-11 years and 2 months) with a full clinical examination including motor ability and functional status evaluation as well as behaviour observation, neuroimaging and an ictal/interictal prolonged scalp video-EEG. A seizure-free outcome was obtained in 73.7% of patients. Gross motility generally improved and cognitive competence did not worsen, with an evident progress in two cases. Consistently with previous reports, evolution was worse in cortical dysplasia than in progressive or acquired vascular cerebropathies. The excellent epileptic outcome and the lack of developmental deterioration in comparison with other more aged series seem to suggest a possible better evolution in earlier surgery treatment. To confirm this suggestion, however, further experience with larger series is needed.
    Seizure 02/2008; 17(1):49-63. · 2.00 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of the study was to analyse the semiology of seizures in children with frontal lobe epilepsy (FLE) and to compare them with other paediatric cohorts described in the literature as well as with adult counterparts. We analysed 174 registered seizures of 18 cases under 12 years with lesional epilepsy whose frontal origin was defined by the concordance of neuroimaging and ictal electrographic findings, and confirmed by surgery in the six cases operated on. Seizures were generally short, with a high daily frequency and usually related to sleep. The most characteristic semiological pattern consisted of complex motor seizures, particularly hypermotor. Often seizures corresponded to a mixture of different semiological patterns (tonic, gelastic, automotor, hypermotor, versive) presenting in the same seizure, often as a unique type in the same patient. With regard to several aspects the semiology of FLE in our cohort looks like that reported in adult series, in particular as to the frequency of complex motor seizures. However, our cohort was also characterised by a more protean array of seizure semiology, stressing the occurrence of seizures typically present in adults (versive and complex motor) and of some seizure patterns more characteristic in children such as epileptic spasms; moreover, the rare occurrence of secondarily generalised tonic clonic seizures (SGTCS) was confirmed.
    Neuropediatrics 01/2008; 38(6):287-91. · 1.19 Impact Factor
  • European Journal of Paediatric Neurology - EUR J PAEDIATR NEUROL. 01/2007; 11:102-103.
  • European Journal of Paediatric Neurology - EUR J PAEDIATR NEUROL. 01/2007; 11:123-123.
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    ABSTRACT: Although the neurocognitive assessment in children as in the adults is an important step before and after surgery, in the literature, the data about pre- and postoperative neurocognitive evaluations in children are very few. The purpose of this paper is to consider some peculiar aspects of the neurocognitive assessment during development, and report literature data about neuropsychological outcome of epileptic children treated with focal resection and hemispherectomy. The second section concerns our personal experience about a cohort of 45 children with refractory epilepsy operated on before 7 years. The results suggest that early surgical treatment is generally effective for seizure control and behavior improvement in children with refractory epilepsy. Concerning cognitive outcome, we found that the neurocognitive level was unchanged in the majority of the patients. We underline the importance of multicentric studies with standardized neuropsychological assessments in large series of young children.
    Child s Nervous System 09/2006; 22(8):744-59. · 1.24 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Mechanisms inducing continuous spike-wave during slow sleep (CSWS) in encephalopathy with electrical status epilepticus during sleep are still unclear. Recently, some sporadic cases with early thalamic injury associated with CSWS have been reported. The aim of the study was to investigate in a population of patients with an early thalamic injury the presence of an activation of paroxysmal activities during sleep, their characteristics, and possible relations to neuroimaging and neuropsychological features. Thirty-two patients with prenatal or perinatal thalamic injuries, mostly due to a vascular mechanisms, were fully examined, including neuroimaging, EEG monitoring, and cognitive follow-up. Twenty-nine of 32 patients showed major sleep EEG activation. Among these 29 patients, two different groups were distinguished: the first included the more or less typical CSWS (12 cases), generally with symmetry of spike and waves (SWs) and often with no spindle at all. The other cases had an usual asymmetry of SWs and presence or reduction of spindles, plus other atypical features concerning synchronism and morphology of SWs. Behavioral disorders were significantly more present in patients with a true CSWS; their improvement (and in one case of the three thoroughly followed the improvement of cognitive competence) paralleled the disappearance of CSWS. The generally predominant injury of the lateral aspect of the thalamus included reticular nucleus and ventral nuclei. An imbalance of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)(B)--versus GABA(A)--mediated receptors may be evoked as a cofactor predisposing to CSWS.
    Epilepsia 07/2005; 46(6):889-900. · 3.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: CASES: Two patients with myelomeningoceles (MMC) and shunt-treated hydrocephalus are reported. At 5 and 7 years respectively, when they began presenting mental deterioration and behavioural disorders, sleep EEG showed continuous spike-waves during slow sleep (CSWS). DISCUSSION: These are the first cases of CSWS described in patients with MMC. The mechanisms of CSWS are considered. The role of hydrocephalus and the thalamic injuries found in one of the patients is discussed in detail. The usefulness of monitoring sleep EEG in patients with hydrocephalus or thalamic lesions is stressed, considering the effects of CSWS on the cognitive competencies and the soft or subclinical course that epilepsy complicated with CSWS may follow.
    Child s Nervous System 08/2004; 20(7):462-7. · 1.24 Impact Factor