Psychiatric manifestations in cerebrotendinous xanthomatosis

Transl Psychiatry. 2013 Sep 3;3(9):e302. doi: 10.1038/tp.2013.76.


Cerebrotendinous xanthomatosis (CTX) is a rare and severe, but treatable, inborn disorder of bile acid biosynthesis and sterol storage with autosomal recessive inheritance and variable clinical presentation. CTX treatment consists of chenodeoxycholic acid and must be started as early as possible to prevent permanent disability. Psychiatric manifestations are rare and non-specific, and often lead to significant diagnostic and treatment delay. Therefore, better recognition of the gamut of psychiatric manifestations in CTX can diminish the risk of misdiagnosis and irreversible neurological deterioration. We hereby describe the psychiatric features in CTX. A complete review of all published cases of CTX in the medical literature was undertaken and the case reports with psychiatric presentation were collected and analyzed. We also describe the psychiatric features in relation to the neurological semeiology in six patients with CTX diagnosed at the La Salpêtrière Hospital. We conclude that psychiatric manifestations in CTX follow a bimodal/bitemporal pattern, appearing early in the disease course in the form of a behavioral/personality disorder associated with learning difficulties or mental retardation, or manifesting in advanced disease in the setting of dementia as rich neuropsychiatric syndromes, such as frontal, orbitofrontal or frontotemporal syndromes of cortico-subcortical dementia encompassing behavioral/personality disturbance, affective/mood disorders or psychotic disorders. Behavioral/personality disturbance in childhood or adolescence, especially when accompanied by learning difficulties, should therefore lead to further investigation to exclude CTX, as early diagnosis and treatment is critical for prognosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology
  • Anxiety Disorders / etiology
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / epidemiology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / etiology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology
  • Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders / epidemiology
  • Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders / etiology
  • Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders / psychology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder / etiology
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • Frontotemporal Dementia / epidemiology
  • Frontotemporal Dementia / etiology
  • Frontotemporal Dementia / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Disorders / epidemiology
  • Personality Disorders / etiology
  • Personality Disorders / psychology*
  • Xanthomatosis, Cerebrotendinous / complications
  • Xanthomatosis, Cerebrotendinous / epidemiology
  • Xanthomatosis, Cerebrotendinous / psychology*
  • Young Adult