Adult-onset Alexander disease among patients of Jewish Syrian descent

Saar Anis, Tsvia Fay-Karmon, Simon Lassman, Fadi Shbat, Orit Lesman-Segev, Nofar Mor, Ortal Barel, Dan Dominissini, Odelia Chorin, Elon Pras, Lior Greenbaum, Sharon Hassin-Baer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Alexander disease (AxD) is a rare autosomal dominant leukodystrophy caused by heterozygous mutations in the glial fibrillary acid protein (GFAP) gene. The age of symptoms onset ranges from infancy to adulthood, with variable clinical and radiological manifestations. Adult-onset AxD manifests as a chronic and progressive condition, characterized by bulbar, motor, cerebellar, and other clinical signs and symptoms. Neuroradiological findings typically involve the brainstem and cervical spinal cord. Adult-onset AxD has been described in diverse populations but is rare in Israel. We present a series of patients diagnosed with adult-onset AxD from three families, all of Jewish Syrian descent. Five patients (4 females) were diagnosed with adult-onset AxD due to the heterozygous mutation c.219G > A, p.Met73Ile in GFAP. Age at symptoms onset ranged from 48 to 61 years. Clinical characteristics were typical and involved progressive bulbar and gait disturbance, followed by pyramidal and cerebellar impairment, dysautonomia, and cognitive decline. Imaging findings included medullary and cervical spinal atrophy and mostly infratentorial white matter hyperintensities. A newly recognized cluster of adult-onset AxD in Jews of Syrian origin is presented. This disorder should be considered in differential diagnosis in appropriate circumstances. Genetic counselling for family members is required in order to discuss options for future family planning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-310
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2023


  • Adult-onset
  • Alexander disease
  • GFAP
  • Leukodystrophy


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