Atypical Motor Neuron Disease variants: Still a diagnostic challenge in Neurology

Rev Neurol (Paris). 2019 Apr;175(4):221-232. doi: 10.1016/j.neurol.2018.04.016. Epub 2019 Mar 4.


Motor neuron disease (MND) represents a wide and heterogeneous expanding group of disorders involving the upper or lower motor neurons, mainly represented by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), primary lateral sclerosis, progressive muscular atrophy and progressive bulbar palsy. Primary motor neuronopathies are characterized by progressive degenerative loss of anterior horn cell motoneurons (lower motor neurons) or loss of giant pyramidal Betz cells (upper motor neurons). Despite its well-known natural history, pathophysiological and clinical characteristics for the most common MND, atypical clinical presentation and neurodegenerative mechanisms are commonly observed in rare clinical entities, so-called atypical variants of MND-ALS, including flail-leg syndrome, flail-arm syndrome, facial-onset sensory and motor neuronopathy (FOSMN), finger extension weakness and downbeat nystagmus (FEWDON-MND) and long-lasting and juvenile MND-ALS. Herein, we provide a review article presenting clinical, genetic, pathophysiological and neuroimaging findings of atypical variants of MND-ALS in clinical practice.

Keywords: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; FEWDON-MND; FOSMN; Flail-arm syndrome; Flail-leg syndrome; Motor neuron disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Motor Neuron Disease / diagnosis*
  • Motor Neuron Disease / physiopathology
  • Motor Neuron Disease / therapy
  • Neurology*