Recent new sequencing techniques allow the identification of novel responsible genes for autosomal recessive spinocerebellar ataxias (ARCAs). However, the same phenotypes are sometimes attributed to the different responsible genes in ARCAs. On the contrary, the same responsible genes may cause heterogeneous phenotypes with respect to the age at onset, symptoms, and the severity of the disease progression. In addition, it is an important issue to clarify whether the gene mutations identified in Caucasian patients with infantile-onset ARCAs are also observed in Japanese patients with adult-onset ARCAs. In this article we review the characteristics of several ARCAs, the existence of which has been recently identified or confirmed in Japan.
Metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG) myocardial scintigraphy is widely accepted as a beneficial tool for differentiating Parkinson’s disease (PD) from other Parkinson-related disorders (PRD). In Japan, dopamine transporter (DAT) imaging, which can evaluate presynaptic degeneration of dopamine neurons, has been applied in clinics since 2014. The present study investigated the utility of [123I]-Ioflupane single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) combined with MIBG myocardial scintigraphy for the diagnosis of PD. We performed [123I]-Ioflupane SPECT and MIBG myocardial scintigraphy in 63 PD patients, 8 PRD patients and 1 essential tremor patient, and obtained the specific binding ratio (SBR [cut-off: 4.5]) and the heart-to-mediastinum ratio (H/M [cut-off: 2.2]). In 70% of the PD patients, both parameters were significantly reduced. In 22% of the PD patients, the SBR was smaller than 4.5 with normal H/M, and H/M was less than 2.2 with normal SBR in 5% of all subjects. Either the SBR or H/M was significantly reduced in 97% of the study population. The SBR showed low disease specificity to PD (11%), and the SBR and H/M negatively correlated with disease duration. These findings indicate that [123I]-Ioflupane SPECT combined with MIBG myocardial scintigraphy can improve the detection rate of PD. However, careful interpretation of these results is required because [123I]-Ioflupane SPECT poorly differentiates PD from PRD. Progression of PD may reflect the gradual reduction of isotope accumulation, hence, both [123I]-Ioflupane SPECT and MIBG myocardial scintigraphy should be tested repeatedly even in clinically suspected PD cases showing negative results.
To clarify the current status of genetic counseling and health monitoring for symptomatic and asymptomatic female carriers of dystrophinopathy (Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD)), we sent out questionnaires to 104 member institutions of The Japan’s National Liaison Council for Clinical Sections of Medical Genetics, and responses were received from 51 institutions. Between April 2013 and March 2014, 57 carriers at 21 institutions received genetic counseling, and 37 carriers at 15 institutions underwent genetic screening for DMD/BMD mutations. At the 23 institutions that gave genetic counseling, 20 (87%) informed carriers of possible health problems, 14 (61%) informed carriers of cardiomyopathy and heart failure, and 14 (61%) advised carriers about regular medical checkups. Evidence based on accurate and up-to-date epidemiological studies of female carriers is needed and should be widely shared with the families, medical providers, and society.
An 81-year-old woman presented with a chief complaint of gait disturbance. Brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed mild cerebellar atrophy and cerebral blood flow scintigraphy revealed reduced blood flow in the cerebellum. The patient was diagnosed with cortical cerebellar atrophy, and was given taltirelin hydrate, but symptoms slowly progressed. Thirteen years after onset, a positive result for anti-transglutaminase 6 (TG6) IgA antibodies was identified, and gluten ataxia was diagnosed. Despite steroid therapy and gluten-free diet therapy, no improvements were seen, and independent walking became difficult for the patient. High-dose intravenous immunoglobulin therapy resulted in improvements in the Posture and Gait subscore of the International Cooperative Ataxia Rating Scale (ICARS) from 15 to 11 points, and the patient regained the ability to walk independently. Gluten ataxia are rarely reported in Japan and anti-TG6 antibodies were considered useful for its diagnosis.
We report the patient of a 53-year-old woman who developed subacute-onset marked tonge protrusion and bite. She was diagnosed as dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) from the clinical features including progressive cognitive decline, visual hallucinations, parkinsonism, and severe insomnia and depression, and the radiological finding of low dopamine transported uptake in basal ganglia by Dat SCAN and low blood circulation in occipital lobe of cerebrum. The patient received 600 mg doses of levodopa for over a year, followed by rotigotine and ropinirole with a rapid increase of dosage. It is believed that these treatments stimulated and sensitized dopamine D1 receptors, thereby inducing lingual dystonia. Furthermore, the patient demonstrated dyspnea and attacks of apnea caused by the closure of bilateral vocal cords due to laryngeal dyskinesia. After initiation of the neuroleptic, olanzapine, for a short duration, the high dose of levodopa overlapped with neuroleptic sensitivity, suggesting DOPA-induced dystonia and dyskinesia. This interaction can sometimes lead to lethal adverse events, and must be considered very important when treating patients with DLB.
A 40-year-old man was referred to our hospital because of vertical supranuclear gaze palsy, frequent sudden loss of muscle tonus and ataxia for several years. He had a history of prolonged neonatal jaundice. He was given a diagnosis of autism in his childhood, followed by a diagnosis of schizophrenia in his teenage. He also developed a savant skill of calendar calculating. 123I-IMP-SPECT showed decreased cerebral blood flow in the left frontotemporal lobe as often seen in savant syndrome. Although genetic analysis of NPC1 and NPC2 revealed no pathogenic mutation, filipin staining of cultured fibroblasts from his biopsied skin revealed a certain amount of intracellular cholesterol storage pattern, indicating a variant biochemical phenotype of Niemann-Pick disease type C (NPC). The diagnosis of adulthood onset NPC is difficult and challenging, especially for neurologists, because the symptoms and signs are not as clear as those in the classical childhood onset NPC and this subtype is not yet widely known. However, the diagnosis can be made by a combination of filipin staining of fibroblast and/or gene analysis. As a disease-specific therapy for NPC has been approved in Japan, the diagnosis of NPC is of significance.
A 76-year-old woman was admitted to our hospital because of transthyretin-related familial amyloid polyneuropathy (TTR-FAP). She had developed bilateral vitreous opacity at the age of 58 and paroxysmal atrial fibrillation at the age of 62. She suffered gait disturbance and dysesthesia of the limbs at the age of 68 and was diagnosed with FAP involving a homozygous Val30Met mutation in the amyloidogenic transthyretin (ATTR) gene after a genetic test. Her parents were cousins, and her aunt’s medical history included pacemaker implantation and polyneuropathy. At the age of 74, the patient developed gait disturbance and dysesthesia of her extremities. A neurological examination revealed visual loss, hearing impairment, distal muscle weakness, dysesthesia, and decreased sensation in all modalities in her extremities. She could neither walk nor remain standing without support. Brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed a low intensity lesion on the surface of the cerebellum on T2*-weighted images and susceptibility-weighted images. A low intensity pattern that was indicative of the classical type of superficial siderosis was detected. At the age of 76, when she was admitted to our hospital because of the deterioration of her gait disturbance and dysesthesia, brain MRI showed that the patient’s cerebellar atrophy and hemosiderin deposition had worsened. Some reports suggest that FAP patients that are homozygous for the ATTR Val30Met mutation are more likely to develop central nervous involvement than those that are heterozygous for the mutation. Superficial siderosis may be responsible for the central nervous involvement.
A 78-year-old woman was diagnosed with bullous pemphigoid 2 months ago, and she had been treated with steroid and plasmapheresis. She developed sudden fever, vomiting, disorientation, and abnormal behavior. Diffusion weighted images and fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) magnetic resonance (MR) images showed high-intensity signals in the right temporal lobe hippocampus and right insular cortex. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) examination showed normal cell count (4/mm3), but was positive for HSV1-DNA by PCR. She was diagnosed with herpes simplex encephalitis (HSE), and acyclovir was started on the first day of admission. She had complete recovery, and was discharged. She didn’t show CSF pleocytosis throughout her course of HSE. No CSF pleocytosis could be due probably to her immunosuppressed state under the steroid therapy for bullous pemphigoid. Because the morbidity and mortality of HSE is drastically reduced by early antiviral treatment, it is important to accelerate the diagnosis and treatment of HSE, especially in immunosuppressed or immunocompromised hosts.
A 66-year-old woman suddenly experienced unsteadiness while walking; she had experienced the same symptom before, but it had resolved immediately. Her neurological findings showed cerebellar ataxia, absence of tendon reflex in the extremities, and orthostatic hypotension. MRI with DWI of the brain showed linear high-intensity areas at the white matter just below the cerebral cortex. Therefore, we suspected neuronal intranuclear inclusion disease (NIID). In her cutaneous skin biopsy, intranuclear inclusion bodies, which tested positive for an anti-ubiquitin antibody and anti-p62 antibody, were observed in sweat gland cells and fibroblasts; therefore, we diagnosed her with NIID. As no one in her family had similar symptoms, this was a case of sporadic NIID. Adult-onset NIID with the main presentation of cerebellar ataxia is rare; in our case, this repeated acute-onset symptom was a unique manifestation of the condition.