Current and Promising Therapies in Autosomal Recessive Ataxias

CNS Neurol Disord Drug Targets. 2018;17(3):161-171. doi: 10.2174/1871527317666180419115029.


Background & objective: Ataxia is clinically characterized by unsteady gait and imbalance. Cerebellar disorders may arise from many causes such as metabolic diseases, stroke or genetic mutations. The genetic causes are classified by mode of inheritance and include autosomal dominant, X-linked and autosomal recessive ataxias. Many years have passed since the description of the Friedreich's ataxia, the most common autosomal recessive ataxia, and mutations in many other genes have now been described. The genetic mutations mostly result in the accumulation of toxic metabolites which causes Purkinje neuron lost and eventual cerebellar dysfunction. Unfortunately, the recessive ataxias remain a poorly known group of diseases and most of them are yet untreatable.

Conclusion: The aim of this review is to provide a comprehensive clinical profile and to review the currently available therapies. We overview the physiopathology, neurological features and diagnostic approach of the common recessive ataxias. The emphasis is also made on potential drugs currently or soon-to-be in clinical trials. For instance, promising gene therapies raise the possibility of treating differently Friedreich's ataxia, Ataxia-telangiectasia, Wilson's disease and Niemann-Pick disease in the next few years.

Keywords: Recessive ataxia; ataxia with oculomotor apraxia; ataxia with vitamin E deficiency; ataxia-telangiectasia; autosomal recessive spastic ataxia of charlevoix-saguenay; cerebrotendinous xantomatosis; friedreich's ataxia; niemann-pick disease type C; refsum's disease; wilson's disease..

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Cerebellar Ataxia / classification
  • Cerebellar Ataxia / diagnosis
  • Cerebellar Ataxia / physiopathology
  • Cerebellar Ataxia / therapy*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic*
  • Copper-Transporting ATPases / genetics
  • Frataxin
  • Humans
  • Iron-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases / genetics
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Vitamin E Deficiency / complications


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Iron-Binding Proteins
  • alpha-tocopherol transfer protein
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases
  • PHYH protein, human
  • ATP7B protein, human
  • Copper-Transporting ATPases

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