Chorea-acanthocytosis in monozygotic twins: clinical findings and neuropathological changes as detected by diffusion tensor imaging, FDG-PET and (123)I-beta-CIT-SPECT

J Neurol. 2007 Aug;254(8):1081-8. doi: 10.1007/s00415-006-0492-5. Epub 2007 Feb 8.


We report on two 33 years old monozygotic twins with chorea-acanthocytosis (ChAc) misdiagnosed as schizophrenia and Tourette syndrome, respectively. Although the patients shared several clinical similarities, there were also some clear differences: twin 1 presented initially with an acute episode of a paranoid schizophrenia, while twin 2 suffered from generalized epileptic seizures. In both twins, MRI demonstrated caudate nucleus atrophy and an increased apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) in the striatum bilaterally with right sided predominance. (18)F-FDG PET showed bilaterally reduced glucose utilization in the striatum with clearly pronounced reduction on the right side compared to the left and in twin 1 compared to twin 2. Ratios of binding to striatal dopamine transporters (DAT) and serotonin transporters in the hypothalamus midbrain area as determined using (123)I-beta-CIT-SPECT fell within the normal ranges. However, in twin 1 a significant difference in binding to presynaptic DAT with marked reduction on the right hemisphere was observed. Right hemispheric accentuated changes measured by MRI, FDG-PET, and (123)I-beta-CITSPECT correspond to more severe hyperkinetic movements on the left part of the body in both twins. Different neuro-psychiatric features in this monocygotic twin pair suggest that not only genetic but also environmental factors contribute to the clinical symptomatology. Our findings suggest that the main neuropathological process in ChAc is located in the striatum, involving microstructural alterations, and disturbance of metabolism and dopaminergic neurotransmission.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cocaine / analogs & derivatives
  • Deoxyglucose
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Diseases in Twins / pathology*
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuroacanthocytosis / genetics
  • Neuroacanthocytosis / pathology*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon / methods*
  • Twin Studies as Topic
  • Twins, Monozygotic*


  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • 2beta-carbomethoxy-3beta-(4-iodophenyl)tropane
  • Deoxyglucose
  • Cocaine