We examined 26 individuals with clinical and electron microscopic signs of late infantile neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (LINCL). In 22 cases, we found both pathogenic alleles. Sixteen patients exclusively carried either one or a combination of the two common mutations R208X and IVS5-1G > C. In the remaining cases, four missense mutations could be detected, of which R127Q, N286S, and T353P represent novel, previously not described alleles. A clinical performance score was developed by rating motor, visual, and verbal functions and the incidence of cerebral seizures in 3-month intervals during the course of the disease. A Total Disability Score was derived by summing up the single scores for motor, visual, and verbal functions. The 16 individuals with the two common mutations were grouped together (referred to as standard patients), and the 5th, 50th, and 95th centiles were calculated and graphically depicted over time. The scores for motor function and language ability dropped earliest and progressed very similarly in the standard patients. The performance curves of two children with the N286S mutation slightly diverged from the 95th centile. However, the performance curves of one patient with atypical LINCL carrying the R127Q mutation fell far beyond the 95th centile. The presented performance rating clearly and quantitatively delineates the disease course of the LINCL patients and hence offers a useful tool for clinical evaluation of future therapeutic interventions. In addition, the described performance score system can be applied to other types of neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses and could be adapted to various other neurodegenerative diseases of childhood.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.