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Leukodystrophies and genetic leukoencephalopathies in adults: clinical, genetic and neuroimaging characterization. Leukodystrophies and genetic leukoencephalopathies are a heterogeneous group of rare disorders that affect predominantly the cerebral white matter.
They are more common in children and have a wide phenotypic spectrum with non-specific clinical features dominated by neuropsychiatric manifestations and long-tract symptoms. The neuroimaging findings are highly heterogeneous, but commonly have the same features for the same disorders, allowing precise phenotypic-genotypic correlation.
As next-generation sequencing techniques become widely used, the genetic basis of a great number of these disorders has been established, as new disorders have been identified, especially in the pediatric population.
At least 60 genes have been associated to these disorders, adding complexity to the diagnostic approach of such patients. However, little is known about the phenotypes and the genotypes of adult patients with leukodystrophies and genetic leukoencephalopathies. The aim of the present study was to describe clinical, neuroradiological and genetic aspects of adult patients with leukodystrophy or genetic leukoencephalopathy.
A retrospective and partially prospective clinical study was conducted in our neurogenetics service. All 31 families included 38 patients were clinically and neuroradiologically evaluated. Neurophysiological studies were performed as needed. Biochemical or genetic diagnostic tests were ordered in three sequential steps. On the first step, based on the clinical and neuroradiological presentations, biochemical or single-gene test were ordered according to the diagnostic hypothesis.
On the second step, patients were evaluated by focused exome sequencing and 13 patients were diagnosed: four with vanishing white matter disease, three with CADASIL, three with hereditary diffuse leukoencephalopathy with spheroids, one with leukoencephalopathy with brainstem and spinal cord involvement and lactate elevation, one with Gordon-Holmes syndrome and ne with PLP1-related disorder.
On the third step, the probands without diagnosis were evaluated by whole-exome sequencing and two had a definitive diagnosis. One family was diagnosed with PUS3-related intellectual deficiency, an extremely rare condition that causes syndromic intellectual deficiency, leukoencepahlopathy and, in our patients, nephropathy, something that was not previously described in this condition.
The other family presented a totally new phenotype associated with FDX2. The patients presented congenital optic atrophy, mitochondrial myopathy, axonal peripheral polyneuropathy and reversible leukoencephalopathy. We concluded that the clinical and neuroradiological picture of adult patients with leukodystrophies and genetic leukoencephalopathies are highly heterogeneous and depends on the specific etiology.
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