Objective: SCN8A encephalopathy is a developmental and epileptic encephalopathy (DEE) caused by de novo gain-of-function mutations of sodium channel Nav 1.6 that result in neuronal hyperactivity. Affected individuals exhibit early onset drug-resistant seizures, developmental delay, and cognitive impairment. This study was carried out to determine whether reducing the abundance of the Scn8a transcript with an antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) would delay seizure onset and prolong survival in a mouse model of SCN8A encephalopathy.
Methods: ASO treatment was tested in a conditional mouse model with Cre-dependent expression of the pathogenic patient SCN8A mutation p.Arg1872Trp (R1872W). This model exhibits early onset of seizures, rapid progression, and 100% penetrance. An Scn1a +/- haploinsufficient mouse model of Dravet syndrome was also treated. ASO was administered by intracerebroventricular injection at postnatal day 2, followed in some cases by stereotactic injection at postnatal day 30.
Results: We observed a dose-dependent increase in length of survival from 15 to 65 days in the Scn8a-R1872W/+ mice treated with ASO. Electroencephalographic recordings were normal prior to seizure onset. Weight gain and activity in an open field were unaffected, but treated mice were less active in a wheel running assay. A single treatment with Scn8a ASO extended survival of Dravet syndrome mice from 3 weeks to >5 months.
Interpretation: Reduction of Scn8a transcript by 25 to 50% delayed seizure onset and lethality in mouse models of SCN8A encephalopathy and Dravet syndrome. Reduction of SCN8A transcript is a promising approach to treatment of intractable childhood epilepsies. Ann Neurol 2020;87:339-346.