[Familial idiopathic vitamin E deficiency associated with cerebellar atrophy]

Rinsho Shinkeigaku. 1990 Sep;30(9):966-71.
[Article in Japanese]


Sibling cases of familial vitamin E deficiency accompanied by ataxia, polyneuropathy and mental retardation were reported. Case 1 was a 37-year-old male who developed progressive gait disturbance, deformity of the feet and head tremor from childhood, after normal delivery and development of early childhood. On physical examination, he had cataract, high arched palate and pes cavus. Neurological examination revealed mental retardation (WAIS 68), scanning speech, muscular atrophy of the face and extremities with predominance in the lower limbs, absent Achilles tendon reflex, disturbance of superficial and deep sensation predominant in distal limbs, and marked gait ataxia. Ataxia was both cerebellar and sensory in nature. Laboratory data of the blood showed no significant abnormalities including blood glucose and vitamin B12 except a markedly low level of serum vitamin E. The brain CT scan revealed severe cerebellar atrophy and marked dilatation of the cisterna magna and the subarachnoid space around the cerebellum. Motor nerve conduction velocity in the leg was decreased. Biopsy specimen from the quadriceps muscle showed neurogenic atrophy. Sural nerve biopsy revealed decrease in large myelinated fibers with axonal degeneration and regeneration. Oral administration of alpha-tocopherol acetate, 600 mg per day, diminished ataxia significantly. Based on lysosomal enzyme activity in leukocytes, clinical and laboratory examination, lipidosis or spinocerebellar degeneration was excluded. Chronic lipid malabsorption or beta lipoprotein deficiency which can cause decrease in vitamin E absorption, was not recognized. On oral loading with 2 g of alpha-tocopherol acetate, the decrease rate of serum vitamin E was normal. Consequently the low vitamin E was considered to have resulted from selective impairment of vitamin E absorption.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Atrophy
  • Cerebellum / pathology*
  • Free Radicals
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Necrosis
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Vitamin E / physiology
  • Vitamin E Deficiency / genetics*
  • Vitamin E Deficiency / metabolism
  • Vitamin E Deficiency / pathology


  • Free Radicals
  • Vitamin E