Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) refers to several different inherited conditions that affect the nervous system and adrenal glands. Other names for it are adrenomyeloneuropathy, childhood cerebral ALD, and Schilder-Addison Complex. The gene that causes ALD was identified in 1993. It occurs in about 1 in 20,000 people and mainly affects men. Women can carry ALD without having any symptoms. The symptoms, treatments, and prognosis of ALD vary depending on which type is present. ALD is not curable, but the progression can be slowed in some cases.
The genetic bases for all different phenotypic variants of X-ALD are mutations in the gene encoding the peroxisomal ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter, ABCD1 (formerly adrenoleukodystrophy protein, ALDP). ABCD1 transports CoA-activated very long-chain fatty acids from the cytosol into the peroxisome for degradation. The phenotypic variability is remarkable ranging from cerebral inflammatory demyelination of childhood onset, leading to death within a few years, to adults remaining pre-symptomatic through more than five decades. There is no general genotype-phenotype correlation in X-ALD.
Eighty-three male patients from 30 families were biochemically evaluated: 51 were affected. 27/51 (54%) presented the cerebral form; 11/51 had AMN (22%); 5 had Addison-only (10%), and 8 (16%) were asymptomatic. Between 2002 and 2006, the minimal incidence was 1:35,000 males in our State (South Brazil). Forty-three affected individuals were followed for 5.4+/-3.7 years. Of 10 boys detected at early stages, three developed CALD. These three boys and another five CALD at baseline were referred to hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Seven transplants were carried out, 5 with good clinical evolution after 2.2 years post-transplant. The non-transplanted case was later defined as a stable cerebral form.