Moyamoya is a cerebrovascular condition characterized by a progressive stenosis of the terminal part of the internal carotid arteries (ICAs) and the compensatory development of abnormal "moyamoya" vessels. The pathophysiological mechanisms of this condition, which leads to ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, remain unknown. It can occur as an isolated cerebral angiopathy (so-called moyamoya disease) or in association with various conditions (moyamoya syndromes). Here, we describe an autosomal-recessive disease leading to severe moyamoya and early-onset achalasia in three unrelated families. This syndrome is associated in all three families with homozygous mutations in GUCY1A3, which encodes the α1 subunit of soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC), the major receptor for nitric oxide (NO). Platelet analysis showed a complete loss of the soluble α1β1 guanylate cyclase and showed an unexpected stimulatory role of sGC within platelets. The NO-sGC-cGMP pathway is a major pathway controlling vascular smooth-muscle relaxation, vascular tone, and vascular remodeling. Our data suggest that alterations of this pathway might lead to an abnormal vascular-remodeling process in sensitive vascular areas such as ICA bifurcations. These data provide treatment options for affected individuals and strongly suggest that investigation of GUCY1A3 and other members of the NO-sGC-cGMP pathway is warranted in both isolated early-onset achalasia and nonsyndromic moyamoya.
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