Role of plasma homocysteine levels and MTHFR polymorphisms on IQ scores in children and young adults with epilepsy treated with antiepileptic drugs.Epilepsy Behav 2013; 29(3):548-51EB
Homocysteine (Hcy) is a sulfur-containing amino acid involved in methionine metabolism. High plasma total Hcy (tHcy) has been quite frequently reported in patients with epilepsy treated with antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) mainly related to plasma folate reduction induced by AEDs themselves. The role of C677T and A1298C polymorphisms of methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase gene (MTHFR) on the increase of plasma tHcy in patients with epilepsy taking AEDs is still controversial. Cognitive impairment may be associated with epilepsy either as the result of the epileptic syndrome per se or as a side effect induced by the AEDs. High plasma tHcy levels were associated with lower cognitive performances in patients affected by Alzheimer's disease and mild cognitive impairment and in healthy elderly. We searched for a correlation between plasma tHcy levels with the intelligence quotient (IQ) scores in a population of children and young adults with epilepsy treated with old and/or newer AEDs. The study group encompassed 179 patients (92 M, 51.5%) followed at our Unit of Child Neuropsychiatry and aged between 4 and 25years (mean+SD: 14.03±4.25). The inclusion criteria included the following: 1) diagnosis of epilepsy of "unknown cause" (cryptogenic) according to the ILAE classification, 2) age older than 3years, 3) stabilized antiepileptic treatment for at least 6months, and 4) clinical records of cognitive tests, plasma tHcy value, and results of MTHFR polymorphisms. Patients' mean tHcy value was 9.71±3.13μM/L (tHcy<9μM/L as our laboratory cutoff in nonepileptic controls). The mean TIQ score was 85.22 (SD±24.12); the mean VIQ score was 86.32 (SD±20.86); and the mean PIQ score was 86.94 (SD±21.51). C677T and A1298C MTHFR polymorphisms were detected in 74/92 (80%) examined patients and distributed into the following: CT (22.3%), TT (14.9%), CC (10.3%) for C677T, AC (16%), CC (1.1%), and AA (30.3%) for A1298C. Plasma tHcy levels were not significantly related to the IQ scores (TIQ, VIQ, or PIQ). Two significant findings came out. First, patients on AED polytherapy showed significantly lower TIQ, VIQ, and PIQ scores compared with the ones with AED monotherapy (p=0.032; p=0.008; p=0.005, respectively). However, this significant difference was not observed with the plasma tHcy levels compared with AED treatment. Second, patients with the 677TT genotype showed significantly higher tHcy levels versus those with the wt ones (p=0.049). In the latter group of patients, although the mean TIQ score was lower compared with the mean TIQ score in those with the wt ones, the difference only approached statistical significance (p=0.056). To our knowledge, this is the first study investigating the relationship between tHcy levels and cognitive scores in children with epilepsy treated with AEDs. Analysis of wider samples, selective neuropsychological tests, and prospective recruitment of patients might be encouraged.