Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS) is an extremely rare, uniformly fatal, segmental "premature aging" disease in which children exhibit phenotypes that may give us insights into the aging process at both the cellular and organismal levels. Initial presentation in early childhood is primarily based on growth and dermatologic findings. Primary morbidity and mortality for children with HGPS is from atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and strokes with death occurring at an average age of 14.6 years. There is increasing data to support a unique phenotype of the craniofacial and cerebrovascular anatomy that accompanies the premature aging process. Strokes in HGPS can occur downstream of carotid artery and/or vertebral artery occlusion, stenosis, and calcification, with prominent collateral vessel formation. Both large and small vessel disease are present, and strokes are often clinically silent. Despite the presence of multisystem premature aging, children with HGPS do not appear to have cognitive deterioration, suggesting that some aspects of brain function may be protected from the deleterious effects of progerin, the disease-causing protein. Based on limited autopsy material, there is no pathologic evidence of dementia or Alzheimer-type changes. In a transgenic mouse model of progeria with expression of the most common HGPS mutation in brain, skin, bone, and heart, there are distortions of neuronal nuclei at the ultrastructural level with irregular shape and severe invaginations, but no evidence of inclusions or aberrant tau in brain sections. Importantly, the nuclear distortions did not result in significant changes in gene expression in hippocampal neurons. This chapter will discuss both preclinical and clinical aspects of the genetics, pathobiology, clinical phenotype, clinical care, and treatment of HGPS, with special attention toward neurologic and cutaneous findings.
Keywords: CVD; HGPS; Progeria; aging; atherosclerosis; cerebrovascular; lamin; laminopathy; orphan disease; rare disease; stroke.
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