1997 Volume 181 Issue 4 Pages 389-409
Clinical and molecular analyses of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease (AD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1) were performed. In the present study, a Japanese family of AD with an Ala285Val substitution in exon 8 of the presenilin-1 (PS-1) gene was found. This family was characterized by relatively late onset (mean age at 50 years) in familial AD with PS-1 gene mutation and by absence of myoclonus, seizure or paratonia. Magnetic resonance image (MRI) study showed marked linear signal abnormalities in white matter of parietoocctipital lobes, suggesting a presence of cortical amyloid angiopathy of the patient with PS-1 gene mutation. Clinical characteristics of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (FALS) with four different missense point mutations in exons 2, 4, and 5 of the Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD) gene were reported. Although features of progressive neurogenic muscular atrophy was common in patients of these families, patients of each family showed characteristic clinical features. Although lower motor sign was evident in all cases, hyperreflexia varied from 0 to 100% among patients with the different mutations, and Babinski sign was not observed in any cases. Bulbar palsy was frequent with a mutation, but not present with another mutation. SOD activity of red blood cells was generally reduced with minor variations. CAG trinucleotide repeat expansion was analyzed in 25 families with hereditary ataxia of Menzel type in the northeast of Japan. Twenty of 38 patients in 12 families had expanded allele for spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1). Study of the number of CAG repeats in various tissues showed no differences in the repeat length in lymphocytes, muscle or brain; sperm, however, showed an obvious expansion. This may be a clue to a possible mechanism for the molecular basis of paternal anticipation of the disease. These results suggest that clinical features of some familial cases of neurodegenerative diseases such as AD, ALS, and SCA1 are well correlated with their genetic mutations.