There are a large number of well recognised syndromes comprising cerebellar ataxia in association with other neurological features. We report three family members who presented with a relapsing, early onset cerebellar ataxia, associated with progressive optic atrophy and sensorineural deafness. All three patients have areflexia (in the absence of a peripheral neuropathy), a pes cavus deformity, and show varying degrees of severity. Extensive neurological investigations have been normal, and the aetiology and pathophysiology of this disorder remain unclear. This may represent a separate syndrome of early onset cerebellar ataxia with associated features ("cerebellar ataxia plus"), which is likely to either have an autosomal dominant or maternal mitochondrial pattern of inheritance. The recognition of this association under the acronym of CAPOS (cerebellar ataxia, areflexia, pes cavus, optic atrophy, and sensorineural deafness) may help in the delineation of a new syndrome.
Autosomal dominant Progressive External Ophthalmoplegias are Mendelian disorders characterized by the accumulation of multiple deletions of mitochondrial DNA in critical tissues. Most of the Autosomal dominant Progressive External Ophthalmoplegias families carry heterozygous mutations in one of three genes: ANT1, encoding the muscle-heart specific mitochondrial adenine nucleotide translocator, Twinkle, encoding the mitochondrial DNA helicase, and POLG1, encoding the catalytic subunit of the mitochondrial DNA-specific polymerase. Mutations in both POLG1 alleles are also found in autosomal recessive Progressive External Ophthalmoplegias sibships with multiple affected members and in apparently sporadic cases. In addition, recessive POLG1 mutations are responsible for three additional diseases: Alpers-Huttenlocher hepatopathic poliodystrophy, Sensory-Ataxic Neuropathy Dysarthria and Ophthalmoplegia and juvenile SpinoCerebellar Ataxia-Epilepsy syndrome. Mitochondrial neuro-gastro-intestinal encephalomyopathy is an autosomal recessive disorder of juvenile onset, caused by mutations in the gene encoding Thymidine Phosphorylase. Thymidine Phosphorylase is involved in the control and maintenance of the pyrimidine nucleoside pool of the cell. Finally, mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome is a heterogeneous group of disorders characterized by a reduction in mitochondrial DNA copy number. Clinically, they include a myopathic form, a more generalized encephalomyopathic form and a fatal infantile hepato-cerebral syndrome leading to rapidly progressive liver and brain failure. To date, eight genes have been associated with mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. Novel disease genes have recently been added to this list, including OPA1 and GFER, and new clinical variants add further complexity to this expanding area of mitochondrial medicine.
Mitochondrial DNA; oxidative phosphorylation; mitochondrial disorders; MtDNA multiple deletions; MtDNA depletion
Miller Fisher syndrome (MFS) is a rare immune-mediated neuropathy that commonly presents with diplopia following the acute onset of complete bilateral external ophthalmoplegia. Ophthalmoplegia is often accompanied by other neurological deficits such as ataxia and areflexia that characterize MFS. Although MFS is a clinical diagnosis, serological confirmation is possible by identifying the anti-GQ1b antibody found in a majority of affected patients. We report a patient with MFS who presented with clinical signs suggestive of ocular myasthenia gravis, but in whom the correct diagnosis was made on the basis of serological testing for the anti-GQ1b antibody.
An 81-year-old white man presented with an acute onset of diplopia following a mild gastrointestinal illness. Clinical examination revealed complete bilateral external ophthalmoplegia and left-sided ptosis. He developed more marked bilateral ptosis, left greater than right, with prolonged attempted upgaze. He was also noted to have a Cogan’s lid twitch. Same day evaluation by a neuro-ophthalmologist revealed mild left-sided facial and bilateral orbicularis oculi weakness. He had no limb ataxia, but exhibited a slightly wide-based gait with difficulty walking heel-to-toe. A provisional diagnosis of ocular myasthenia gravis was made and anticholinesterase inhibitor therapy was initiated. However, his symptoms did not improve and serological testing was positive for the anti-GQ1b IgG antibody, supporting a diagnosis of MFS.
Although the predominant ophthalmic feature of MFS is complete bilateral external ophthalmoplegia, it should be recognized that MFS has variable associations with lid and pupillary dysfunction. Such confounding neuro-ophthalmic features require a thorough history, neurological examination, neuroimaging, and serological testing for the anti-GQ1b antibody to arrive at a diagnosis of MFS.
Miller Fisher syndrome; anti-ganglioside antibody; ophthalmoplegia; diplopia; cranial neuropathies; multiple; myasthenia gravis; ocular
The Riley–Day syndrome is the most common of the hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathies (Type III). Among the well-recognized clinical features are reduced pain and temperature sensation, absent deep tendon reflexes and a progressively ataxic gait. To explain the latter we tested the hypothesis that muscle spindles, or their afferents, are absent in hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy III by attempting to record from muscle spindle afferents from a nerve supplying the leg in 10 patients. For comparison we also recorded muscle spindles from 15 healthy subjects and from two patients with hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy IV, who have profound sensory disturbances but no ataxia. Tungsten microelectrodes were inserted percutaneously into fascicles of the common peroneal nerve at the fibular head. Intraneural stimulation within muscle fascicles evoked twitches at normal stimulus currents (10–30 µA), and deep pain (which often referred) at high intensities (1 mA). Microneurographic recordings from muscle fascicles revealed a complete absence of spontaneously active muscle spindles in patients with hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy III; moreover, responses to passive muscle stretch could not be observed. Conversely, muscle spindles appeared normal in patients with hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy IV, with mean firing rates of spontaneously active endings being similar to those recorded from healthy controls. Intraneural stimulation within cutaneous fascicles evoked paraesthesiae in the fascicular innervation territory at normal stimulus intensities, but cutaneous pain was never reported during high-intensity stimulation in any of the patients. Microneurographic recordings from cutaneous fascicles revealed the presence of normal large-diameter cutaneous mechanoreceptors in hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy III. Our results suggest that the complete absence of functional muscle spindles in these patients explains their loss of deep tendon reflexes. Moreover, we suggest that their ataxic gait is sensory in origin, due to the loss of functional muscle spindles and hence a compromised sensorimotor control of locomotion.
congenital insensitivity to pain; familial dysautonomia; HSAN; microneurography; muscle spindles; peripheral nerve; Riley–Day syndrome
We present recent advances in the genetics of recurrent vertigo, including familial episodic ataxias, migraneous vertigo, bilateral vestibular hypofunction and Meniere’s disease.
Although several vestibular disorders are more common within families, the genetics of vestibulopathies is largely not known. Genetic loci and clinical features of familial episodic ataxias have been defined in linkage disequilibrium studies with mutations in neuronal genes KCNA1 and CACNA1A. Migrainous vertigo is a clinical disorder with a high comorbidity within families much more common in females with overlapping features with episodic ataxia and migraine. Bilateral vestibular hypofunction is a heterogeneous clinical group defined by episodes of vertigo leading to progressive loss of vestibular function which also can include migraine. Meniere’s disease is a clinical syndrome characterized by spontaneous episodes of recurrent vertigo, sensorineural hearing loss, tinnitus and aural fullness and familial Meniere’s disease in around 10-20% of cases. An international collaborative effort to define the clinical phenotype and recruiting patients with migrainous vertigo and Meniere’s disease is ongoing for genome-wide association studies.
Vestibulopathies; recurrent vertigo; Meniere’s disease; genome-association studies.
A new group of recessively inherited metabolic disorders affecting glycoprotein metabolism has been identified--the carbohydrate-deficient-glycoprotein (CDG) syndromes. Here the course and clinical expression of CDG syndrome type I in 13 patients who have passed the age of 15 years are described. All presented with early onset psychomotor retardation, in most cases combined with slight facial dysmorphic features, some degree of hepatic dysfunction, and in one case, pericardial effusion. About half of the patients had subcutaneous lipodystrophy and comatose or stroke-like episodes during childhood. After the age of 15 the disease was mainly characterised by neurological symptoms consisting of non-progressive ataxia associated with cerebellar hypoplasia, stable mental retardation, variable peripheral neuropathy, and strabismus. One third of the patients had generalised seizures, usually sporadic, and all had retinal pigmentary degeneration. In all cases there was more or less pronounced thoracic deformity and no female had passed puberty. Also, the oldest female showed premature aging. Severe internal organ symptoms, which are common in pediatric patients, were absent. All patients had highly raised serum concentrations of the biochemical marker carbohydrate-deficient transferrin, which can be used to verify the diagnosis. It is concluded that after childhood, CDG syndrome type I is a largely non-progressive disease compatible with a socially functioning but dependent lifestyle.
The author reports his experience on Refsum's disease and that gained after personally examining in detail 64 patients with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease over the past ten years. The "cerebellar" inco-ordination in Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (with or without distal wasting) and in Refsum's disease is analysed. Some variations in the motor and sensory neuropathy of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease and Refsum's disease are discussed. The adequacy of motor conduction velocity in genetically distinguishing types of the above mentioned familial peripheral neuropathies is reviewed. Data on the neuropathy assessed by modern techniques of three original patients of Roussy and Levy (1926) are given. The possibility of extensor plantar responses in patients with Charcot-Marie-Tooth and Refsum's disease without structural lesion of the pyramidal tract is pointed out. The existence of the association between Friedreich's ataxia and Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is criticised. It is emphasised that spinocerebellar degeneration (other than Friedreich's ataxia) presenting with distal limb weakness and wasting and sensory impairment may mimic Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.
D-bifunctional protein deficiency, caused by recessive mutations in HSD17B4, is a severe, infantile-onset disorder of peroxisomal fatty acid oxidation. Few affected patients survive past two years of age. Compound heterozygous mutations in HSD17B4 have also been reported in two sisters diagnosed with Perrault syndrome (MIM # 233400), who presented in adolescence with ovarian dysgenesis, hearing loss, and ataxia.
An adult male presented with cerebellar ataxia, peripheral neuropathy, hearing loss, and azoospermia. The clinical presentation, in combination with biochemical findings in serum, urine, and muscle biopsy, suggested a mitochondrial disorder. Commercial genetic testing of 18 ataxia and mitochondrial disease genes was negative. Targeted exome sequencing followed by analysis of single nucleotide variants and small insertions/deletions failed to reveal a genetic basis of disease. Application of a computational algorithm to infer copy number variants (CNVs) from exome data revealed a heterozygous 12 kb deletion of exons 10–13 of HSD17B4 that was compounded with a rare missense variant (p.A196V) at a highly conserved residue. Retrospective review of patient records revealed mildly elevated ratios of pristanic:phytanic acid and arachidonic:docosahexaenoic acid, consistent with dysfunctional peroxisomal fatty acid oxidation.
Our case expands the phenotypic spectrum of HSD17B4-deficiency, representing the first male case reported with infertility. Furthermore, it points to crosstalk between mitochondria and peroxisomes in HSD17B4-deficiency and Perrault syndrome.
HSD17B4; DBP; D-bifunctional protein deficiency; Perrault syndrome; Next-generation sequencing; Exome sequencing; Copy number variants; CNV; Mitochondria; Mitochondrial disorders; Mitochondrial disease; Mendelian disorders; Human genetics; Ataxia; Multi-system disorders; Peroxisomal defects
tropical ataxic neuropathy (TAN) is currently used to describe several
neurological syndromes attributed to toxiconutritional causes. However,
TAN was initially proposed to describe a specific neurological syndrome
seen predominantly among the Ijebu speaking Yorubas in south western
Nigeria. In this study, the prevalence of TAN was determined in Ososa,
a semiurban community in south western Nigeria described as endemic for
TAN in 1969, and its neurological features were compared with
Strachan's syndrome, prisoners of war neuropathy, the epidemic
neuropathy in Cuba, and konzo.
METHODS—A census of
Ososa was followed by door to door screening of all subjects aged 10 years and above with a newly designed screening instrument. Subjects
who screened positive had a neurological examination, and the diagnosis
of TAN was made if any two or more of bilateral optic atrophy,
bilateral neurosensory deafness, sensory gait ataxia, or distal
symmetric sensory polyneuropathy were present.
RESULTS—A total of
4583 inhabitants were registered in the census. Of these, 3428 subjects
aged 10 years and above were screened. The diagnosis of TAN was made in
206 of 323 subjects who screened positive for TAN. The prevalence of
TAN was 6.0%, 3.9% in males and 7.7% in females. The highest age
specific prevalence was 24% in the 60-69 years age group in women.
occurrence of TAN in Ososa continues at a higher prevalence than was
reported 30 years ago. Its neurological features and natural history do
not resemble those described for Strachan syndrome, epidemic neuropathy
in Cuba, or konzo. The increasing consumption of cassava foods linked
to its causation makes TAN of public health importance in Nigeria, the
most populous African country.
Xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) is a rare autosomal recessive disorder of DNA repair, with a prevalence of 1 in 1 million. It may also be a cause of neurological symptoms including sensorineural hearing loss, peripheral neuropathy, ataxia, and chorea. Severe neurological symptoms including mental retardation, short stature, and hypogonadism invoke De Sanctis-Cacchione syndrome (DCS).
The patient was a 55-year-old woman with a history of mental retardation who developed chorea at age 32 and ataxia at age 37. She had numerous facial scars from 10 prior basal cell carcinoma excisions as well as diminished deep tendon reflexes, bilateral hearing loss, dysphagia, and skin freckling. Brain MRI revealed severe cortical, cerebellar, and brainstem atrophy. Supportive treatment and prevention of further damage from UV light is the mainstay of treatment in XP and DCS.
XP and related disorders should be considered in the setting of neurological disorder and multiple cutaneous cancers.
Xeroderma pigmentosum; De Sanctis-Cacchione syndrome; Cutaneous cancer; Mental retardation
Six families are described with hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy (HMSN) of probable autosomal recessive inheritance. Four of these were classified as HMSN type I and two as type II. The consanguinity rate in this series was high, suggesting that these recessive genes are rare. In comparison with the dominantly inherited forms of these disorders, the mean age of onset was significantly earlier for the type II cases but did not differ for the type I patients. Motor nerve conduction velocity was significantly less for the type I cases but did not differ for the type II form. The recessive type I cases tended to show a greater incidence of weakness, ataxia, tendon areflexia and scoliosis than in the dominant form. The importance of differentiating such cases from Friedreich's ataxia is emphasised.
Patients having neuropathy associated with Sjögren's syndrome may present with pain and superficial sensory involvement in the absence of sensory ataxia. Treatment for this form of associated neuropathy has not been established. The case of a patient with painful sensory neuropathy associated with Sjögren's syndrome, whose symptoms, particularly pain, responded well to intravenous immunoglobulin both at onset and in a relapse, is reported. Other patients with painful sensory neuropathy associated with Sjögren's syndrome may also be candidates for intravenous Ig treatment.
Psoriasis vulgaris is a common inflammatory disease of the skin, and myelin-associated glycoprotein-related neuropathy is a chronic sensory-predominant polyneuropathy. Although both of these diseases are considered autoimmune diseases, psoriasis with concomitant myelin-associated glycoprotein-related neuropathy is very rare. Here, we report a case of myelin-associated glycoprotein-related neuropathy associated with psoriasis.
A 66-year-old Japanese man, having experienced sternocostoclavicular pain for ten years, was admitted to our hospital because of gait disturbance and numbness of the limbs. Our patient had normal cranial nerve function and normal limb muscle strength. His vibratory and position sense was severely impaired and his touch, temperature and pinprick sensations were mildly disturbed in a glove and stocking distribution. A myelin-associated glycoprotein western blot analysis showed the presence of a 91 to 94kDa band using purified human myelin-associated glycoprotein antigen. His skin lesions were moderately pruritic and Auspitz’s sign was positive. Our patient also showed osteitis of his clavicle and manubrium. We diagnosed our patient with myelin-associated glycoprotein-related neuropathy associated with psoriatic arthritis. Five days after intravenous immunoglobulin therapy, his deep sensory impairment began to improve and his sternocostoclavicular pain diminished dramatically.
Because myelin-associated glycoprotein-related neuropathy and psoriatic arthritis are both considered autoimmune diseases, we conclude that intravenous immunoglobulin therapy is very effective for patients with an association of these diseases.
To quantify ataxia in a simple way four tests were developed and analysed, based on the neurological examination: a tapping test for the arms (test 1), another one for the legs (test 2), a quantified finger-to-nose test (test 3), and a modified Romberg test (test 4). All tests were performed by 115 volunteers, 13 patients with cerebellar ataxia and 25 patients with sensory ataxia due to neuropathy. The test-retest repeatability was excellent. Tests 1, 2 and 4 were age-dependent, with lower scores above age 65. On test 1, 2 and 4 both groups of patients performed worse than controls; the correlation with the ataxia scale of Nobile-Orazio and the modified disability Rankin scale was good (P < 0.05). Although test 3 could differentiate between sensory and cerebellar ataxia, it was not useful for quantifying the degree of ataxia. To determine the practical value of the four tests, 11 patients performed the tests for a second time after a follow up period of 16 months. The results indicate that tests 1, 2 and 4 are sensitive for the detection of ataxia and of changes in its severity.
The hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathies (HSAN) are rare inherited neuropathies presenting with sensory loss and complications, including ulcers, infections, osteomyelitis and amputations. Usually, sensory symptoms predominate although motor involvement can occur. Autonomic features may be minimal (then hereditary sensory neuropathy, HSN, is preferred). HSAN has been classified into five subtypes depending on clinical presentation.1
Hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy II (HSANII or HSNII) is an early onset, autosomal recessive sensory neuropathy with ulcero-mutilating complications due to mutations in the HSN2 isoform of the WNK1 gene.2 Recently, a similar phenotype was described in a Saudi-Arabian family, and a homozygous nonsense mutation found in a new gene, FAM134B (family with sequence similarity 134, member B), encoding a newly identified Golgi protein. The index case in this family was initially thought to have leprosy. Three additional families (out of 75 patients) with similar phenotypes were found to have homozygous loss of function mutations in FAM134B.3
Here, we report the clinical and pathological findings in a further patient with HSNII due to a homozygous mutation in FAM134B.
Friedreich ataxia, the most common hereditary ataxia, affects about 1:29 000 Caucasians. In about 98% of these individuals it is due to homozygosity for a GAA trinucleotide repeat expansion in intron 1 of FXN; in the other 2% it is due to compound heterozygosity for a GAA expansion and point mutation or deletion. The condition affects multiple sites in the central and peripheral nervous system as well as a number of other organ systems, resulting in multiple signs and symptoms. Onset of this autosomal recessive condition is usually in the first 2 decades of life. Major clinical features include progressive ataxia, absent lower limb reflexes, upgoing plantar responses, and peripheral sensory neuropathy. The main non-neurological sites of morbidity are the heart, resulting in cardiomyopathy, and the pancreas, resulting in diabetes mellitus. In this review, we provide an overview of the clinical features of Friedreich ataxia and discuss differential diagnoses.
Friedreich ataxia; neuropathy; spinocerebellar; cerebellum; cardiomyopathy; diabetes mellitus
Ataxia with oculomotor apraxia defines a group of genetically distinct recessive ataxias including ataxia-telangectasia (A-T, ATM gene), ataxia with oculomotor apraxia type 1 (AOA1, APTX gene) and type 2 (AOA2, SETX gene). Although, a few unique clinical features differentiate each of these forms, the patients also share common clinical signs, such as the presence of cerebellar atrophy, sensorimotor axonal neuropathy, and elevated alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) serum level.
Materials and methods
We selected 22 Italian patients from 21 families, presenting progressive cerebellar ataxia, axonal neuropathy, and elevated serum AFP. We screened the coding regions of ATM, APTX and SETX genes for point mutations by direct sequencing or DHPLC, and searched genomic rearrangements in SETX by MLPA analysis. In selected cases, quantification of ATM and senataxin proteins was performed by Western blot. Clinical, neurophysiological, and neuroimaging data were collected.
Thirteen patients (12 families) carried SETX mutations (AOA2, 57%), two were mutated in ATM (A-T), and three in APTX (AOA1). In three remaining patients, we could not find pathogenic mutations, and in one case we found, in homozygosis, the SETX p.K992R polymorphism (population frequency 1-2%). In AOA2 cases, we identified 14 novel and three reported SETX mutations. Signs at onset were gait ataxia and facial dyskinesia, and the age ranged between 11 and 18 years. None had obvious oculomotor apraxia at the latest examination (age 14–45 years). The patient carrying the p.K992R SETX polymorphism had a phenotype similar to that of the diagnosed AOA2 patients, while the other three undiagnosed subjects had a very late onset and a few distinguishing clinical features.
Discussion and conclusions
We describe a large series of 13 AOA2 Italian patients. The phenotype was consistent with previous descriptions of AOA2, except for a higher frequency of strabism, and for the absence of oculomotor apraxia. In our survey ~60% of juvenile-to-adult cases with cerebellar ataxia, sensorimotor neuropathy and increased AFP are due to mutations in the SETX gene, and a smaller percentage to APTX and ATM gene mutations.
Ataxia with Oculomotor Apraxia type 2; AOA2; Alpha-fetoprotein; Recessive ataxias; Ataxia telangiectasia; ATM
To assess the prevalence of peripheral neuropathy in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) having neuropathic symptoms, and to investigate the relationship between electrophysiological findings of peripheral neuropathy and clinical findings of RA.
Patients with a clinical diagnosis of RA and who had tingling or burning sensation in any extremity were electrophysiologically examined for evidence of peripheral neuropathy. Study parameters, including age, gender, laboratory parameters, duration of RA, and medication, were recorded. The symptoms and signs of neuropathy were quantified with the neuropathy symptom score, and the functional statuses of these patients were assessed.
Out of a total of 30 RA patients, 10 (33%) had peripheral neuropathy: 2 had bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), 5 had unilateral CTS, 1 had sensory polyneuropathy, and 2 had motor-sensory polyneuropathy. The mean ages of the patients with and without peripheral neuropathy were 69.4 and 56.5 years, respectively (p<0.05). A significant relationship was found between peripheral neuropathy and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) antibody. However, no relationship was found between peripheral neuropathy and the type of medication, RA duration, the patients' functional status, neuropathic symptoms, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and C-reactive protein values.
Neuropathic symptoms are common in RA patients, and it is difficult to distinguish peripheral neuropathy symptoms from those of arthritis. Patients with RA, particularly elderly patients and anti-CCP antibody positive patients who complain of neuropathic symptoms should undergo electrophysiological examination.
Rheumatoid arthritis; Peripheral neuropathy; Anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide
Paraneoplastic neurological syndromes are conditions that manifest as the remote effects of cancer. These are very rare, occurring in 1/10000 patients with a malignancy, and include Lambert–Eaton myasthenic syndrome, limbic encephalitis, subacute cerebellar ataxia, opsoclonus-myoclonus, Stiff–Person Syndrome, retinopathies, chronic gastrointestinal pseudo-obstruction and sensory neuropathy. This report describes a case of 41-year-old man who presented with elements of multiple paraneoplastic syndromes, including chronic gastrointestinal pseudo-obstruction, myasthenia gravis-Lambert–Eaton overlap syndrome and polymyositis, and who was subsequently found to have a malignant thymoma. There are only three reported cases in the literature describing cases of Lambert–Eaton myasthenic syndrome in association with a thymoma, and only one case of a myasthenia gravis-Lambert–Eaton overlap syndrome in a patient with thymoma. However, there are no documented cases in the literature of this constellation of syndromes in a patient with a malignant thymoma.
Despite much effort, a 74 year old man with progressive
proximal weakness and sensory disturbances due to axonal neuropathy remained a diagnostic problem. Investigation of his family disclosed an
additional patient with a cerebellar syndrome and a family member with
mainly pyramidal features. Analysis of DNA showed a CAG repeat
expansion in the Machado-Joseph disease gene in all three patients.
Although not conclusively proved, we think that the neuropathy of the
index case is linked to the CAG repeat expansion. Machado-Joseph
disease should be considered in progressive axonal neuropathy.
Cerebellar stroke is a common cause of a vascular vestibular syndrome. Although vertigo ascribed to cerebellar stroke is usually associated with other neurological symptoms or signs, it may mimic acute peripheral vestibulopathy (APV), so called pseudo-APV. The most common pseudo-APV is a cerebellar infarction in the territory of the medial branch of the posterior inferior cerebellar artery (PICA). Recent studies have shown that a normal head impulse result can differentiate acute medial PICA infarction from APV. Therefore, physicians who evaluate stroke patients should be trained to perform and interpret the results of the head impulse test. Cerebellar infarction in the territory of the anterior inferior cerebellar artery (AICA) can produce a unique stroke syndrome in that it is typically accompanied by unilateral hearing loss, which could easily go unnoticed by patients. The low incidence of vertigo associated with infarction involving the superior cerebellar artery distribution may be a useful way of distinguishing it clinically from PICA or AICA cerebellar infarction in patients with acute vertigo and limb ataxia. For the purpose of prompt diagnosis and adequate treatment, it is imperative to recognize the characteristic patterns of the clinical presentation of each cerebellar stroke syndrome. This paper provides a concise review of the key features of cerebellar stroke syndromes from the neuro-otology viewpoint.
cerebellar stroke; vertigo; hearing loss; pseudo-APV; head impulse test
Autosomal recessive spastic ataxia of Charlevoix-Saguenay (ARSACS: MIM 270550) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by early-onset cerebellar ataxia with spasticity and peripheral neuropathy. This disorder, considered to be rare, was first described in the late seventies among French Canadians in the isolated Charlevoix-Saguenay region of Quebec. Nowadays, it is known that the disorder is not only limited to this region but occurs worldwide. Our objective was to identify cases of autosomal recessive spastic ataxia of Charlevoix-Saguenay (ARSACS) in Dutch patients with recessive early-onset cerebellar ataxia by sequencing the complete SACS gene. In a Dutch cohort of 43 index patients with ataxia onset before age 25, we identified 16 index patients (total 23 patients) with mutations in the SACS gene. Nine of them had homozygous mutations, and seven of them had compound heterozygous mutations. Retrospectively, the phenotype of patients carrying mutations was remarkably uniform: cerebellar ataxia with onset before age 13 years, lower limb spasticity and sensorimotor axonal neuropathy, and cerebellar (vermis) atrophy on magnetic resonance imaging, consistent with the core ARSACS phenotype previously described. The high rate of mutations (37%) identified in this cohort of Dutch patients suggests that ARSACS is substantially more frequent than previously estimated. We predict that the availability of SACS mutation analysis as well as an increasing awareness of the characteristic ARSACS phenotype will lead to the diagnosis of many additional patients, possibly even at a younger age.
Early onset spastic cerebellar ataxia; Dutch population; Novel SACS gene mutations; ARSACS
Mutations in DNA methyltransferase 1 (DNMT1) have been identified in 2 autosomal dominant syndromes: 1) hereditary sensory autonomic neuropathy with dementia and hearing loss (HSAN1E); and 2) cerebellar ataxia, deafness, and narcolepsy. Both syndromes have mutations in targeting sequence (TS) domain (exons 20–21), which is important in mediating DNA substrate binding to the DNMT1 catalytic domain. Frontal lobe hypometabolism has been documented in an HSAN1E family, but memory loss has been the primary cognitive complaint. The chromosomal location of the DNMT1 gene at 19p13.2 has been linked to familial late-onset Alzheimer disease.
We sequenced 41 exons of DNMT1 and their flanking regions in 1) 2 kindreds with HSAN1E; 2) 48 patients with HSAN1 alone without dementia and hearing loss; and 3) 5 probands of familial frontotemporal dementia (FTD) kindreds. We also sequenced exon 20 and 21 in 364 autopsy-confirmed late-onset Alzheimer disease cases.
Mutations in DNMT1 were specific to 2 HSAN1E kindreds with dementia and hearing loss (no narcolepsy). One family carried previously identified mutation Tyr495Cys; the other carried a novel Tyr495His, both in the TS domain. The symptoms of these patients include prominent personality, psychiatric manifestations, and seizures in one and the onset time is later than the previously reported cases.
Clinicians should consider DNMT1 mutations in patients presenting with FTD or primary memory decline who also have sensory neuropathy and hearing loss. Amino acid Tyr495 is a hot spot for HSAN1E, distinct from exon 21 mutations associated with narcolepsy.
Fixation instability due to saccadic intrusions is a feature of autosomal recessive spinocerebellar ataxias, and includes square wave intrusions (SWI) and macrosaccadic oscillations (MSO). A recent report suggested that the non-competitive antagonist of NMDA receptors, memantine, could decrease MSO and improve fixation in patients with spinocerebellar ataxia with saccadic intrusions (SCASI). We similarly tested two sisters, respectively of 58 and 60 years, with an unrecognized form of recessive, adult-onset cerebellar ataxia, peripheral neuropathy and slow saccades, who showed prominent SWI and also complained with difficulty in reading. We tested horizontal visually guided saccades (10°–18°) and three minutes of steady fixation in each patient and in thirty healthy controls. Both patients showed a significant reduction of peak and mean velocity compared with control subjects. Large SWI interrupting steady fixation were prominent during steady fixation and especially following visually guided saccades. Eye movements were recorded before and during the treatment with memantine, 20 mg/daily for 6 months. The treatment with memantine reduced both the magnitude and frequency of SWI (the former significantly), but did not modified neurological conditions or saccade parameters. Thus, our report suggests that memantine may have some general suppressive effect on saccadic intrusions, including both SWI and MSO, thereby restoring the capacity of reading and visual attention in these and in other recessive forms of ataxia, including Friedreich’s, in which saccadic intrusions are prominent.
OBJECTIVE—The neuropathy associated with
monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) is typically
a predominantly demyelinating process that may have additional features
of axonal degeneration. Sixteen patients with MGUS and a pure or
predominantly axonal neuropathy are reported and compared with 20 consecutive patients with demyelinating neuropathy and MGUS who were
seen during the same period.
METHODS—Retrospective review of a consecutive
series of patients with neuropathy and MGUS evaluated during a five
RESULTS—The axonal group had mild, symmetric,
slowly progressive, predominantly sensory neuropathy, usually limited
to the legs. There were no differences in the age of onset or duration
of symptoms at the time of presentation, initial symptoms, or the
severity of weakness between the axonal and demyelinating cases.
However, the axonal process was associated with less vibration and
proprioceptive loss, did not include leg ataxia (present in 55% of
patients with demyelinating type), less often had generalised areflexia
(19% v 70%), IgM gammopathy (19% v 80%),
and anti-MAG antibodies (0% v 40%), and had lower CSF
protein concentrations (mean, 49 v 100mg/dl). The illness
was also generally milder with less disability (mean Rankin score 2.1 v 2.8). Fewer patients with axonal neuropathy improved
with immunomodulating therapy (27% v 75%).
CONCLUSION—There is an axonal neuropathy
associated with MGUS that is clinically and electrophysiologically
distinct from the more typical demyelinating pattern.