Exploring the cause of sudden unexplained death in epilepsy

March 25, 2013

Dravet syndrome (DS) is a form of infantile-onset, treatment-resistant epilepsy that is caused by a mutation in the gene encoding a voltage-gated sodium channel, SCN1A. DS patients have a 30-fold increased risk of dying from sudden unexplained death in epilepsy (SUDEP) compared to patients with other forms of pediatric-onset epilepsy.

In this issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Franck Kalume and colleagues at the University of Washington characterized SUDEP in a mouse model of DS. Observation using video, electroencephalography, and electrocardiography revealed that a prolonged slowing of the heart beat preceded SUDEP in mice. Treatment with with drugs that reduce activity in the reduced the incidence of SUDEP, suggesting that mortality results from seizure-related parasympathetic hyperactivity.

In a companion Attending Physician, Orrin Devinsky and colleagues discuss how these results could relate to SUDEP in human DS patients.

Explore further: Expert calls for awareness, research of sudden death in patients with epilepsy

More information: Sudden unexpected death in a mouse model of Dravet Syndrome, J Clin Invest. doi:10.1172/JCI66220
Sudden death in epilepsy: Of mice and men, J Clin Invest. 2013;123(4):1415–1416. doi:10.1172/JCI67759

Related Stories

Expert calls for awareness, research of sudden death in patients with epilepsy

November 10, 2011
Over time, epileptic seizures can lead to major health issues, including significant cognitive decline and even death, warns Orrin Devinsky, MD, professor, Departments of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry at NYU Langone ...

Adjunctive antiepileptic drug treatment can lower risk of dying from a sudden unexpected death

September 18, 2011
New research published Online First in The Lancet Neurology, has found that epilepsy patients who receive additional treatment with antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) have about a seven times lower risk of dying from a sudden unexpected ...

Could antidepressants help reduce the risk of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy?

February 9, 2012
A groundbreaking study published in Elsevier's Epilepsy & Behavior provides evidence in mouse model that drugs known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs; one category of antidepressants) may reduce the risk ...

Recommended for you

Want to win at sports? Take a cue from these mighty mice

July 20, 2017
As student athletes hit training fields this summer to gain the competitive edge, a new study shows how the experiences of a tiny mouse can put them on the path to winning.

Engineered liver tissue expands after transplant

July 19, 2017
Many diseases, including cirrhosis and hepatitis, can lead to liver failure. More than 17,000 Americans suffering from these diseases are now waiting for liver transplants, but significantly fewer livers are available.

Lunatic Fringe gene plays key role in the renewable brain

July 19, 2017
The discovery that the brain can generate new cells - about 700 new neurons each day - has triggered investigations to uncover how this process is regulated. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Jan and Dan Duncan ...

'Smart' robot technology could give stroke rehab a boost

July 19, 2017
Scientists say they have developed a "smart" robotic harness that might make it easier for people to learn to walk again after a stroke or spinal cord injury.

New animal models for hepatitis C could pave the way for a vaccine

July 19, 2017
They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In the case of hepatitis C—a disease that affects nearly 71 million people worldwide, causing cirrhosis and liver cancer if left untreated—it might be worth ...

Omega-3 fatty acids fight inflammation via cannabinoids

July 18, 2017
Chemical compounds called cannabinoids are found in marijuana and also are produced naturally in the body from omega-3 fatty acids. A well-known cannabinoid in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol, is responsible for some of its ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.