Introduction: Pathogenic variants of the GABRG2 gene, encoding a GABAA receptor subunit, have been associated with various epileptic syndromes and drug-resistant epilepsy. Vinpocetine has been previously reported efficacious in a patient harboring a GABRB3 pathogenic variant, encoding another GABAA receptor subunit.
Case presentation: We describe a patient with GABRG2-related drug-resistant epilepsy who improved after vinpocetine treatment. An 8-year-old boy with a family history of epilepsy was diagnosed with early onset absence epilepsy at 6 months of age and was treated unsuccessfully with sodium valproate and ethosuximide. At 6 years of age, he developed generalized tonic-clonic seizures and increasing absences despite lamotrigine add-on as well as learning difficulties. Brain MRI was normal and video-EEG telemetry showed multiple myoclonic absences. An epilepsy gene panel analysis showed a GABRG2 pathogenic variant, c.254 T > A p.(Ile85Lys) (NM_198903.2), inherited from the proband's father. Seizures were resistant to several medications. After treatment with vinpocetine add-on, the patient showed a dramatic initial response, further reduction of seizures, and improvement of his cognitive functions.
Conclusion: This case illustrates that vinpocetine could be considered in drug-resistant epilepsies related to GABRG2 in accordance with the principles of precision medicine.
Objective: To screen a library of potential therapeutic compounds for a woman with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome due to a Y302C GABRB3 (c.905A>G) mutation.
Methods: We compared the electrophysiological properties of cells with wild-type or the pathogenic GABRB3 mutation.
Results: Among 1320 compounds, multiple candidates enhanced GABRB3 channel conductance in cell models. Vinpocetine, an alkaloid derived from the periwinkle plant with anti-inflammatory properties and the ability to modulate sodium and channel channels, was the lead candidate based on efficacy and safety profile. Vinpocetine was administered as a dietary supplement over 6 months, reaching a dosage of 20 mg three times per day, and resulted in a sustained, dose-dependent reduction in spike-wave discharge frequency on electroencephalograms. Improved language and behavior were reported by family, and improvements in global impression of change surveys were observed by therapists blinded to intervention.
Significance: Vinpocetine has potential efficacy in treating patients with this mutation and possibly other GABRB3 mutations or other forms of epilepsy. Additional studies on pharmacokinetics, potential drug interactions, and safety are needed.
Vinpocetine is a synthetic derivative of the alkaloid vincamine and has been used as a dietary supplement for decades. Following a positive report of the use of vinpocetine in a patient with a loss-of-function GABRB3 variant, we here describe another patient with a loss-of-function GABRA1 variant (p.(Arg112Gln)) who benefited from vinpocetine treatment. This patient was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, psychiatric complications, and therapy-resistant focal epilepsy. Upon add-on treatment with 40 mg vinpocetine daily for 16 months, the patient experienced an overall improved quality of life as well as seizure freedom. Our findings corroborate that vinpocetine can attenuate epilepsy-associated behavioral issues in patients with loss-of-function GABAA receptor gene variants.