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[Adult-onset hereditary leukoencephalopathy: classification and molecular basis of the disorder].

[alexander disease]

Adult-onset leukoencephalopathy involving the white matter of the brain is a heterogeneous disorder that exhibits a wide range of clinical manifestations. Recent advances in molecular genetics enable gene-based diagnosis of some forms of adult-onset leukoencephalopathy. In this review, the classification of adult-onset leukoencephalopathy based on molecular genetic findings is proposed. The autosomal dominant forms of adult-onset leukoencephalopathy include hereditary diffuse leukoencephalopathy with spheroids (HDLS), autosomal dominant adult-onset leukoencephalopathy (ALDL), cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy (CADASIL), and Alexander disease. The autosomal recessive forms of adult-onset leukoencephalopathy include cerebral autosomal recessive arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy (CARASIL), vanishing white matter (VWM) with leukoencephalopathy, Nasu-Hakola disease, and metachromatic leukodystrophy (MDL). X-chromosome-linked disorders include fragile X-associated tremor and ataxia syndrome (FXTAS) and adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD). Identification of the genes responsible for adult-onset leukoencephalopathy provides an important clue for elucidation of molecular pathophysiology underlying white matter disorders. One example is the identification of mutations in colony stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF-1R) in patients with HDLS. Missense and splice site mutations have been found in the tyrosine kinase domain of CSF-1R. CSF-1R is highly expressed in microglia in the brain. It has been demonstrated that mice depleted of CSF-1R exhibit loss of microglia in the brain. In addition, stimulation of IL-34, a ligand of CSF-1R, induces proliferation and activation of microglia. These findings raise an intriguing possibility that dysfunction of microglia may play a role in the pathogenesis of white matter lesions occurring in patients with HDLS.