Clinical features and blood iron metabolism markers in children with beta-propeller protein associated neurodegeneration

Anezka Belohlavkova, Katalin Sterbova, Cornelia Betzler, Stuve Burkhard, Axel Panzer, Markus Wolff, Petra Lassuthova, Marketa Vlckova, Martin Kyncl, Barbora Benova, Alena Jahodova, Martin Kudr, Maria Goerg, Petr Dusek, Pavel Seeman, Gerhard Kluger, Pavel Krsek
European Journal of Paediatric Neurology: EJPN 2020, 28: 81-88

BACKGROUND: Neurodegeneration with brain iron accumulation constitutes a group of rare progressive movement disorders sharing intellectual disability and neuroimaging findings as common denominators. Beta-propeller protein-associated neurodegeneration (BPAN) represents approximately 7% of the cases, and its first signs are typically epilepsy and developmental delay. We aimed to describe in detail the phenotype of BPAN with a special focus on iron metabolism.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: We present a cohort of paediatric patients with pathogenic variants of WD-Repeat Domain 45 gene (WDR45). The diagnosis was established by targeted panel sequencing of genes associated with epileptic encephalopathies (n = 9) or by Sanger sequencing of WDR45 (n = 1). Data on clinical characteristics, molecular-genetic findings and other performed investigations were gathered from all participating centres. Markers of iron metabolism were analysed in 6 patients.

RESULTS: Ten children (3 males, 7 females, median age 8.4 years) from five centres (Prague, Berlin, Vogtareuth, Tubingen and Cologne) were enrolled in the study. All patients manifested first symptoms (e.g. epilepsy, developmental delay) between 2 and 31 months (median 16 months). Seven patients were seizure-free (6 on antiepileptic medication, one drug-free) at the time of data collection. Neurological findings were non-specific with deep tendon hyperreflexia (n = 4) and orofacial dystonia (n = 3) being the most common. Soluble transferrin receptor/log ferritin ratio was elevated in 5/6 examined subjects; other parameters of iron metabolism were normal.

CONCLUSION: Severity of epilepsy often gradually decreases in BPAN patients. Elevation of soluble transferrin receptor/log ferritin ratio could be another biochemical marker of the disease and should be explored by further studies.

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