MRI brain lesions in asymptomatic boys with X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy

Neurology. 2019 Apr 9;92(15):e1698-e1708. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000007294. Epub 2019 Mar 22.


Objective: To describe the brain MRI findings in asymptomatic patients with childhood cerebral adrenoleukodystrophy (CCALD).

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed a series of biochemically or genetically confirmed cases of adrenoleukodystrophy followed at our institution between 2001 and 2015. We identified and analyzed 219 brain MRIs from 47 asymptomatic boys (median age 6.0 years). Patient age, MRI scan, and brain lesion characteristics (e.g., contrast enhancement, volume, and Loes score) were recorded. The rate of lesion growth was estimated using a linear mixed effect model.

Results: Sixty percent of patients (28/47) showed brain lesions (median Loes score of 3.0 points; range 0.5-11). Seventy-nine percent of patients with CCALD (22/28) had contrast enhancement on first lesional or subsequent MRI. Lesion progression (Loes increase of ≥0.5 point) was seen in 50% of patients (14/28). The rate of lesion growth (mL/mo) was faster in younger patients (r = -0.745; p < 0.0001). Older patients (median age 14.4 y/o) tended to undergo spontaneous arrest of disease. Early lesions grew 46× faster when still limited to the splenium, genu of the corpus callosum, or the brainstem (p = 0.001).

Conclusion: We provide a description of CCALD lesion development in a cohort of asymptomatic boys. Understanding the early stages of CCALD is crucial to optimize treatments for children diagnosed by newborn screening.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adrenoleukodystrophy / diagnostic imaging*
  • Aging
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain Stem / diagnostic imaging
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Corpus Callosum / diagnostic imaging
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Neonatal Screening
  • Retrospective Studies