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.
An epidemiological study was conducted in France to estimate the prevalence of adrenoleukodystrophy, a severe neurologic X-linked disorder affecting boys and young men. 129 cases were collected. Analysis of all cases born between 1956 and 1986 with available clinical history allowed the calculation of the lowest estimation of the prevalence: 1 in 100,000 male births.