Alexander disease is a slowly progressing fatal neurodegenerative disease. more...
- Dysmyelogenic Leukodystrophy
- Dysmyelogenic Leukodystrophy-Megalobare
- Fibrinoid Degeneration of Astrocytes
- Fibrinoid Leukodystrophy
- Hyaline Panneuropathy
- Leukodystrophy with Rosenthal Fibers
- Megalencephaly with Hyaline Inclusion
- Megalencephaly with Hyaline Panneuropathy
Delays in development of some physical, psychical and behavioral skills, progressive enlargement of the head (macrocephaly), seizures, spasticity, in some cases also hydrocephalus, dementia, clumsy movements.
This genetically based condition, affecting the central nervous system (mid brain and cerebellum)is caused by mutations in the gene for glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) that maps to chromosome 17q21. It is inherited in an autosomal dominant manner. Alexander disease belongs to leukodystrophies, a group of diseases which affect growth or development of the myelin sheath. The destruction of white matter in the brain is accompanied by the formation of fibrous, eosinophilic deposits known as Rosenthal fibers.
- decreased density of white matter
- frontal lobe predominance
- +/- dilated lateral ventricles
Occurrence and prevalence
Very rare, occurs mostly in males. The infantile form (80% of all cases) starts usually at the age of six months or within the first two years. The average duration of the infantile form of the illness is usually about 3 years. Onset of the juvenile form (14% of all cases) presents usually between four to ten years of age. Duration of this form is in most cases about 8 years. In younger patients, seizures, megalencephaly, developmental delay, and spasticity are usually present. Neonatal onset is also reported. Onset in adults is least frequent. In older patients, bulbar or pseudobulbar symptoms and spasticity predominate. Symptoms of the adult form may also resemble multiple sclerosis. There are no more than 300 cases reported.
There is neither cure nor standard treatment for Alexander disease. All treatment is symptomatic and supportive, for example antibiotics for intercurrent infection and anticonvulsants for seizure control are usually used.
The prognosis is generally poor. With early onset, death usually occurs within 10 years after the onset of symptoms. Usually, the later the disease occurs, the slower its course is.
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