Clinical, ophthalmological, imaging and genetic features in Brazilian patients with ARSACS

Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2019 May;62:148-155. doi: 10.1016/j.parkreldis.2018.12.024. Epub 2018 Dec 23.


Background: Autosomal recessive spastic ataxia of Charlevoix-Saguenay (ARSACS) is an important form of inherited ataxia with a varied clinical spectrum. Detailed studies of phenotype and genotype are necessary to improve diagnosis and elucidate this disorder pathogenesis.

Objective and methods: To investigate the clinical phenotype, retinal architecture, neuroimaging features and genetic profile of Brazilian patients with ARSACS, we performed neurological and ophthalmological evaluation in thirteen Brazilian patients with molecularly confirmed ARSACS, and examined their mutation profiles. Optical coherence tomography protocol (OCT) consisted in peripapillary retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) measurement and qualitative analysis of perifoveal scans. Neuroimaging protocol accessed the frequency of atrophy in cerebellum, corpus callosum and parietal lobe, brainstem signal abnormalities, and posterior fossa arachnoid cysts. We reviewed the literature to delineate the ARSACS phenotype in the largest series worldwide.

Results: All patients had ataxia and spasticity, and 11/13 had peripheral neuropathy. Macular microcysts were present in two patients. Peripapillary striations, dentate appearance of inner retina and papillomacular fold were found in eleven cases. All individuals exhibited thickening of RNFL in OCT. The most frequent radiological signs were cerebellar atrophy (13/13), biparietal atrophy (12/13), and linear pontine hypointensities (13/13). Genetic analysis revealed 14 different SACS variants, of which two are novel.

Conclusion: Macular microcysts, inner retina dentate appearance and papillomacular fold are novel retinal imaging signs of ARSACS. Ophthalmological and neuroimaging changes are common findings in Brazilian patients. The core clinical features of ARSACS are ataxia, spasticity and peripheral neuropathy with onset predominantly in the first decade of life.

Keywords: Ataxia; Autosomal recessive ataxia of Charlevoix-Saguenay; MRI; Optical coherence tomography; Retina.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Spasticity / diagnostic imaging*
  • Muscle Spasticity / epidemiology
  • Muscle Spasticity / genetics*
  • Neuroimaging / methods
  • Retinal Neurons / pathology*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA / methods*
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxias / congenital*
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxias / diagnostic imaging
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxias / epidemiology
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxias / genetics
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence / methods*

Supplementary concepts

  • Spastic ataxia Charlevoix-Saguenay type