Paradoxical increase in seizure frequency with valproate in nonketotic hyperglycinemia

Yu Tsuyusaki, Hiroko Shimbo, Takahito Wada, Mizue Iai, Megumi Tsuji, Sumimasa Yamashita, Noriko Aida, Shigeo Kure, Hitoshi Osaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Nonketotic hyperglycinemia (NKH), or glycine encephalopathy, is an autosomal recessive disorder caused by a defect in the glycine cleavage enzyme system. In neonatal-onset NKH, patients manifest lethargy, hypotonia, apnea, and intractable epileptic seizures that are not specific to this disease. We experienced a 6-year-old girl with spastic quadriplegia, intractable epilepsy, and mental retardation, all initially regarded as sequelae of neonatal meningitis. The seizure frequency was transiently increased when valproate was started. Head MRI revealed progressive brain atrophy and white matter loss with high intensity signals on T2-weighted and diffusion-weighted images, which prompted us to conduct further metabolic workups. High glycine levels led us to suspect NKH, and we confirmed this diagnosis by the non-invasive, 13C-glycine breath test. DNA sequencing revealed novel Leu885Pro/Trp897Cys mutations in the glycine decarboxylase gene that were transmitted from both parents. Sodium benzoate and dextromethorphan dramatically decreased her hypertonicity. Our case shows that paradoxical increases in seizure frequency following valproate can be a clue for a diagnosis of NKH, and that a correct diagnosis of NKH can greatly alter the quality of life in such patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-75
Number of pages4
JournalBrain and Development
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Jan


  • Glycine cleavage system
  • Glycine decarboxylase
  • Glycine encephalopathy
  • Nonketotic hyperglycinemia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Paradoxical increase in seizure frequency with valproate in nonketotic hyperglycinemia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this