The Brown-Vialetto-Van Laere and Fazio Londe syndrome revisited: natural history, genetics, treatment and future perspectives

Orphanet J Rare Dis. 2012 Oct 29:7:83. doi: 10.1186/1750-1172-7-83.


The Brown-Vialetto-Van Laere syndrome is a rare neurological disorder which may present at all ages with sensorineural deafness, bulbar palsy and respiratory compromise. Fazio-Londe syndrome is considered to be the same disease entity. Recently it was demonstrated that in some patients the disease is caused by mutations in the SLC52A3 gene which encodes the intestinal (hRFT2) riboflavin transporter. In these patients riboflavin deficiency is the cause of the BVVL/FL syndrome and supplementation of riboflavin proved a life saving treatment. Mutations in the SLC52A2 gene and the SLC52A1 (GPR172B) gene, coding for human riboflavin transporters hRFT3 and hRFT1 have been associated with the BVVL syndrome as well. We performed a review of the literature, with emphasis on the natural history and the effects of treatment in these patients. A total of 35 publications were traced reporting on the clinical presentation of 74 patients who presented before age 18. The most prevalent symptoms were bulbar palsy, hearing loss, facial weakness and respiratory compromise. Death was reported in 28 of the 61 untreated patients, with a very low survival in patients presenting before age 4. All 13 patients who were treated with riboflavin survived, with a strong clinical improvement after days to months of treatment in eight patients. Three patients demonstrated a stable clinical course and treatment was stopped early in two patients. Abnormalities in plasma flavin levels and/or plasma acylcarnitine profiles were observed in some but not in all patients, and also patients with normal plasma flavin levels and acylcarnitine profiles demonstrated a striking clinical improvement on riboflavin supplementation. It is now clear that proper diagnosis requires mutation analysis of all three transporter genes and treatment should be started immediately without first awaiting results of molecular analysis. Clinical improvement may be rapid or gradual over a period of more than 12 months.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bulbar Palsy, Progressive / drug therapy*
  • Bulbar Palsy, Progressive / genetics*
  • Bulbar Palsy, Progressive / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / drug therapy*
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / genetics*
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Riboflavin / therapeutic use


  • Riboflavin

Supplementary concepts

  • Brown-Vialetto-Van Laere syndrome