Juvenile dystonic lipidosis (variant of Niemann-Pick disease type C)
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Journal of the neurological sciences. - Amsterdam
, p. 33-45
University of Antwerp
In two siblings affected with dementia, epilepsy and vertical supranuclear ophthalmoplegia, foam cells and sea-blue histiocytes were found in the bone marrow. Electron microscopy of skin and neuromuscular biopsies gave presumptive evidence in favour of a storage disorder. Postmortem examination of both cases revealed an intraneuronal polymorphous lysosomal storage in the central nervous system (in the cortex and in many nuclei e.g. the substantia nigra and the reticular formation of the brain stem). In the visceral organs with the spleen most severely affected, the inclusions had a different ultrastructure, being composed of tightly apposed leaflets. The biochemical study revealed accumulation of sphingomyelin and other lipids in liver and spleen, with normal sphingomyelinase activities, which is consistent with the diagnosis of Niemann-Pick disease type C. In the brain, the most striking abnormalities involved the glycolipids. Sphingomyelinase activities were unchanged in cultivated skin fibroblasts. These data compared with those of reported cases, allowed the following conclusions to be made: (1) although the combination of clinical features appears to be unique, none of them, when considered separately, is pathognomonic for juvenile dystonic lipidosis; (2) diagnosis during life can be suggested by careful examination of nerve bundles and fibroblasts with the electron microscope, although the method of choice appears to be the study of bone marrow; but final assessment of the diagnosis, in the absence of demonstrable enzymic deficiency, requires in most cases a study of the lipid profile in a liver biopsy (or better, spleen tissue whenever available); (3) the intralysosomal storage is different, both morphologically and biochemically, in the central nervous system and in the spleen; (4) juvenile dystonic lipidosis represents a juvenile variant of Niemann-Pick disease type C, pending the discovery of the primary defect responsible for this disorder.