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Randomized placebo-controlled crossover trial of memantine in children with epileptic encephalopathy

6 March, 2023

Katharina Schiller, Saoussen Berrahmoune, Christelle Dassi, Isabelle Corriveau, Taghreed A Ayash, Bradley Osterman, Chantal Poulin, Michael I Shevell, Elisabeth Simard-Tremblay, Guillaume Sébire, Kenneth A Myers

Brain 18 October 2022 Volume 146, Issue 3, March 2023, Pages 873–879, DOI: 10.1093/brain/awac380


Memantine is an N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist, approved for dementia treatment. There is limited evidence of memantine showing benefit for paediatric neurodevelopmental phenotypes, but no randomized placebo-controlled trials in children with developmental and epileptic encephalopathy.

In this randomized double-blind placebo-controlled crossover trial (Trial registration:, patients with developmental and epileptic encephalopathy received memantine and placebo, each for a 6-week period separated by a 2-week washout phase. Electroencephalography, seizure diary, patient caregivers’ global impression, serum inflammatory markers and neuropsychological evaluation were performed at baseline and after each treatment phase. The primary outcome measure was classification as a ‘responder’, defined as ≥2 of: >50% seizure frequency reduction, electroencephalography improvement, caregiver clinical impression improvement or clear neuropsychological testing improvement.

Thirty-one patients (13 females) enrolled. Two patients withdrew prior to initiating medication and two (twins) had to be removed from analysis. Of the remaining 27 patients, nine (33%) were classified as responders to memantine versus two (7%) in the placebo group (P < 0.02). Electroencephalography improvement was seen in eight patients on memantine compared to two on placebo (P < 0.04). Seizure improvement was observed in eight patients on memantine and two on placebo (P < 0.04). Caregivers reported overall clinical improvement in 10 patients on memantine compared to seven on placebo (not significant). Statistical analysis of neuropsychological evaluation suggested improvements in symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism.

Memantine is a safe and effective treatment for children with developmental and epileptic encephalopathy, having the potential to improve both seizure control and cognitive function.

Commentary: Memantine: a novel treatment for children with developmental and epileptic encephalopathies
Robyn Whitney, Puneet Jain, Memantine. Brain, Volume 146, Issue 3, March 2023, Pages 796–798, DOI: 10.1093/brain/awad018.