Kjellin syndrome: long-term neuro-ophthalmologic follow-up and novel mutations in the SPG11 gene

Ophthalmology. 2011 Mar;118(3):564-73. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2010.07.024. Epub 2010 Oct 29.


Objective: Kjellin's syndrome is a hereditary neuro-ophthalmologic syndrome. We describe the clinical phenotypes of 7 patients, identifying the responsible mutations for 4 of them. A 10-year ophthalmologic and neurologic follow-up of 5 patients allowed us to describe the disease's characteristics, early symptoms and progression, associated ocular signs, and retinal changes in carriers.

Design: Retrospective clinical study and molecular genetics investigation.

Participants: The records of 7 patients with Kjellin's syndrome were analyzed retrospectively.

Methods: All patients underwent full neurologic and ophthalmologic examinations. The neurologic examinations included assessments of initial symptoms, intelligence quotient tests, psychologic tests, and either magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography. The ophthalmologic examinations included visual acuity on an Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study chart, intraocular pressure color vision assessment, slit-lamp and fundus examination, Goldmann perimetry, fundus autofluorescence, optical coherence tomography and fluorescein angiography, electro-oculography, electroretinography, and flash visual evoked potentials. Direct sequencing of the SPG11 and SPG15 genes and gene-dosage analysis for the former were performed for 4 of these index patients.

Main outcome measures: Identification of new mutations in the SPG11 gene, validating its implication in Kjellin's syndrome.

Results: The first signs appear before the age of 10 years, with late verbal development and difficulty running and walking. Life expectancy is between 30 and 40 years. The secondary ophthalmologic symptoms only moderately affect visual acuity. In addition to the classic symptoms, 3 of the 7 patients displayed small whitish lens opacities, and 3 neurologically unaffected parents (father or mother), all heterozygous carriers, exhibited whitish retinal dots. All the patients who were tested carried SPG11, not SPG15, mutations.

Conclusions: Neurologic signs of SPG11 mutations emerge in early infancy, with walking and language difficulties. Onset of paraplegia occurs at the end of the first decade or during the second decade. Retinal changes, an integral part of SPG11 mutations in this series of patients, are only observed once the paraplegia has become apparent.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Consanguinity
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Diagnostic Techniques, Ophthalmological
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Mutation*
  • Paraplegia / diagnosis
  • Paraplegia / genetics*
  • Pedigree
  • Phenotype
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Proteins / genetics*
  • Retinal Degeneration / diagnosis
  • Retinal Degeneration / genetics
  • Retinal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Retinal Diseases / genetics*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spastic Paraplegia, Hereditary / diagnosis
  • Spastic Paraplegia, Hereditary / genetics
  • Visual Acuity
  • Young Adult


  • Proteins
  • SPG11 protein, human

Supplementary concepts

  • Spastic paraplegia 15, autosomal recessive