A Novel Catastrophic Presentation of X-Linked Adrenoleukodystrophy

JIMD Rep. 2015;24:97-102. doi: 10.1007/8904_2015_446. Epub 2015 May 13.


Objective: We report a novel presentation of childhood cerebral X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy: status epilepticus followed by abrupt and catastrophic neurologic deterioration.

Methods: A description of the clinical presentation, laboratory evaluation, and imaging findings leading to a diagnosis of X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy.

Results: A 3-year-old male with prior history of autism presented with fever, diarrhea, and status epilepticus requiring a pentobarbital coma. Admission labs were notable only for a glucose level of 22 mg/dL, which stabilized after correction. The child never returned to his prior neurologic baseline, with complete loss of gross motor, fine motor, and speech skills. Serial brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)/magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) was notable for progressive diffuse cortical signal changes with swelling, diffusion restriction, and ultimately laminar necrosis. Nine months after presentation, CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) protein and MRS lactate were persistently elevated, concerning for a neurodegenerative disorder. This led to testing for mitochondrial disease, followed by lysosomal and peroxisomal disorders. Very long-chain fatty acids were elevated. Identification of a pathogenic ABCD1 mutation confirmed the diagnosis of X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy.

Conclusions: Boys with childhood cerebral X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy typically present with gradual behavioral changes. Rare reports of boys presenting with transient altered mental status or status epilepticus describe a recovery to their pre-presentation baseline. To our knowledge this is the first X-ALD patient to present with status epilepticus with abrupt and catastrophic loss of neurologic function. X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy should be suspected in young males presenting with seizures, acute decline in neurologic function, with persistently elevated CSF protein and MRS lactate.