Infant-Onset Progressive Myoclonus Epilepsy

Michael G. Harbord, Paul A. Hwang, Brian Robinson, Laurence Becker, Amrita Hunjan, E. Gordon Murphy

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5 Citations (Scopus)


We report the clinical, electroencephalographic, neurophysiologic, and neuroimaging findings in eight children with infant-onset progressive myoclonus epilepsy, all of whom had muscle biopsies performed as part of the diagnostic evaluation. Each child had myoclonic seizures, generalized tonic-clonic seizures, and neurologic regression or marked developmental delay. Four children died before 3 years of age. Electroencephalograms in seven children showed an abnormally slow background with bilateral multifocal paroxysmal discharges but no burst suppression pattern or photoparoxysmal response. Muscle biopsy specimens were submitted for histopathology and respiratory-chain enzyme studies. Nonspecific abnormalities on light microscopy or electron microscopy were found in seven samples, including increased subsarcolemmal deposits of mitochondria or morphologic mitochondrial changes, but no ragged-red fibers were seen. Respiratory-chain enzyme studies were performed on five samples and in three children (all of whom had a history of elevated lactate in serum or cerebrospinal fluid), there were low levels of rotenone-sensitive reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) cytochrome c reductase characteristic of a defect in the complex I part of the respiratory-chain pathway. This study has shown that infant-onset progressive myoclonus epilepsy can be distinguished from other myoclonic epilepsy syndromes of infancy by clinical and electrographic features. Furthermore, respiratory-chain enzyme defects are a relatively common cause of infant-onset progressive myoclonus epilepsy. The absence of ragged-red fibers on muscle histopathology does not preclude a mitochondrial enzyme abnormality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-142
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Child Neurology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 1991
Externally publishedYes


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