SPTLC1-Related Hereditary Sensory Neuropathy

In: GeneReviews® [Internet]. Seattle (WA): University of Washington, Seattle; 1993.
[updated ].


Clinical characteristics: SPTLC1-related hereditary sensory neuropathy (HSN) is an axonal form of hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy distinguished by prominent early sensory loss and later positive sensory phenomena including dysesthesia and characteristic "lightning" or "shooting" pains. Loss of sensation can lead to painless injuries, which, if unrecognized, result in slow wound healing and subsequent osteomyelitis requiring distal amputations. Motor involvement is present in all advanced cases and can be severe. After age 20 years, the distal wasting and weakness may involve proximal muscles, possibly leading to wheelchair dependency by the seventh or eighth decade. Sensorineural hearing loss is variable.

Diagnosis/testing: The diagnosis of SPTLC1-related HSN is established in a proband with characteristic clinical features and identification of a heterozygous pathogenic variant in SPTLC1 on molecular genetic testing.

Management: Treatment of manifestations: Clean and protect wounds on neuropathic limbs; surgical treatment similar to that for leprosy; ankle/foot orthotics for foot drop; arthrodesis for Charcot joints; pregabalin, carbamazepine, gabapentin, or amitriptyline, or a combination of anti-seizure medication and an antidepressant drug for shooting pains.

Prevention of secondary complications: Routine care by a diabetic foot care specialist to prevent/treat calluses and foot ulcers; education about good skin care and burn prevention (e.g., to hands when cooking).

Surveillance: At least daily inspection of feet for injuries or sources of wear.

Agents/circumstances to avoid: Opiates as SPTLC1-related HSN is a chronic disorder.

Genetic counseling: SPTLC1-related HSN is inherited in an autosomal dominant manner. Most probands have an affected parent. Offspring of an affected individual have a 50% chance of inheriting the SPTLC1 pathogenic variant. Prenatal testing for pregnancies at increased risk is possible if the pathogenic variant has been identified in the family.

Publication types

  • Review