X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD) is caused by a defect in the gene ABCD1, which maps to Xq28 and codes for a peroxisomal membrane protein that is a member of the ATP-binding cassette transporter superfamily. X-ALD is panethnic and affects approximately 1:20,000 males. Phenotypes include the rapidly progressive childhood, adolescent, and adult cerebral forms; adrenomyeloneuropathy, which presents as slowly progressive paraparesis in adults; and Addison disease without neurologic manifestations. These phenotypes are frequently misdiagnosed, respectively, as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), multiple sclerosis, or idiopathic Addison disease. Approximately 50% of female carriers develop a spastic paraparesis secondary to myelopathic changes similar to adrenomyeloneuropathy. Assays of very long chain fatty acids in plasma, cultured chorion villus cells and amniocytes, and mutation analysis permit presymptomatic and prenatal diagnosis, as well as carrier identification. The timely use of these assays is essential for genetic counseling and therapy. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent overt Addison disease, and significantly reduce the frequency of the severe childhood cerebral phenotype. A promising new method for mass newborn screening has been developed, the implementation of which will have a profound effect on the diagnosis and therapy of X-ALD.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Neurology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience