Adult-Onset Alexander Disease : New Causal Sequence Variant in the GFAP Gene

Objectives: Alexander disease (AD) is a rare disorder of the CNS. Diagnosis is based on clinical symptoms, typical MRI findings, and mutations in the glial fibrillary acid protein (GFAP) gene. In this case study, we describe a new mutation (p.L58P) in GFAP that caused a phenotype of adult-onset AD (AOAD).

Methods: In our outpatient clinic, a patient presented with cerebellar and bulbar symptoms after brain concussion. We used MRI and performed next-generation exome sequencing (NGS) to find mutations in GFAP to diagnose AD. The mutation was then transfected into HeLa cell lines to prove its pathogenicity.

Results: The brain MRI finding showed typical AD alterations. The NGS found a heterozygous variant of unknown significance in GFAP (c.173T>C; p.L58P). After transfecting HeLa cell lines with this mutation, we showed that GFAP-L58P formed pathogenic clusters of cytoplasmic aggregates.

Discussion: We have found a new mutation that causes AOAD. We recommend that AOAD is included in the diagnostic workup in adult patients with gait ataxia and cerebellar and bulbar symptoms in association with a traumatic head injury.


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