Current state of clinical and morphological features in human NCL

Brain Pathol. 2004 Jan;14(1):61-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3639.2004.tb00499.x.


The neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses (NCL) are a large group of autosomal recessive lysosomal storage disorders with both enzymatic deficiency and structural protein dysfunction. Previously, diagnosis of NCL was based on age at onset and clinicopathological (C-P) findings described 4 forms, classified as infantile (INCL) (2), late-infantile (LINCL) (5), juvenile (JNCL) (6), and adult (ANCL) (12). Most patients with NCL have progressive ocular and cerebral dysfunction, including cognitive/motor dysfunction and uncontrolled seizures. After reviewing 520 patients with NCL, we found that about 104 (20%) did not fit this classification of NCL. With further research, 4 additional forms have been recognized: Finnish (13), Gypsy/Indian (14), Turkish (15)--variants of LINCL, and Northern epilepsy (16), also known as progressive epilepsy with mental retardation. These eight NCL forms resulted from 151 different mutations in genes CLN1 to CLN8 causing different phenotypes ( The genes CLN1 and CLN2 encode lysosomal palmitoyl protein thioesterase and tripeptidyl peptidase 1. The diagnosis of NCL is based on clinicopathological (C-P) findings, enzymatic assay, and molecular genetic testing. Ultrastructural studies must be performed to confirm the presence and nature of lysosomal storage material (fingerprint or curvilinear profiles, or granular osmiophilic deposits) before doing biochemical testing. Pheno/genotypic correlation studies are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Inclusion Bodies / ultrastructure
  • Infant
  • Mutation
  • Neuronal Ceroid-Lipofuscinoses / classification*
  • Neuronal Ceroid-Lipofuscinoses / diagnosis*
  • Neuronal Ceroid-Lipofuscinoses / genetics