Nonprogressive congenital ataxias

Handb Clin Neurol. 2018:155:91-103. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-64189-2.00006-8.


The terminology of nonprogressive congenital ataxia (NPCA) refers to a clinically and genetically heterogeneous group of disorders characterized by congenital or early-onset ataxia, but no progression or even improvement on follow-up. Ataxia is preceded by muscular hypotonia and delayed motor (and usually language) milestones. We exclude children with prenatal, perinatal, and postnatal acquired diseases, malformations other than cerebellar hypoplasia, and defined syndromic disorders. Patients with NPCA have a high prevalence of cognitive and language impairments, in addition to increased occurrence of seizures, ocular signs (nystagmus, strabismus), behavior changes, and microcephaly. Neuroimaging is variable, ranging from normal cerebellar anatomy to reduced cerebellar volume (hypoplasia in the proper sense), and enlarged interfolial spaces, potentially mimicking atrophy. The latter appearance is often called "hypoplasia" as well, in view of the static clinical course. Some patients had progressive enlargement of cerebellar fissures, but a nonprogressive course. There is no imaging-clinical-genetic correlation. Dominant, recessive, and X-linked inheritance is documented for NPCA. Here, we focus on the still rather short list of dominant and recessive genes associated with NPCA, identified in the last few years. With future advances in genetics, we expect a rapid expansion of knowledge in this field.

Keywords: cerebellar ataxia; cerebellar atrophy; cerebellar hypoplasia; cerebellum and cognition; nonprogressive cerebellar ataxia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ataxia* / diagnostic imaging
  • Ataxia* / genetics
  • Ataxia* / physiopathology
  • Cerebellum / abnormalities*
  • Cerebellum / diagnostic imaging
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnostic imaging
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / genetics
  • Humans
  • Neuroimaging