Opening New Horizons in the Treatment of Childhood Onset Leukodystrophies

Neuropediatrics. 2019 Aug;50(4):211-218. doi: 10.1055/s-0039-1685529. Epub 2019 May 21.


Leukodystrophies (LDs) predominantly affect the white matter of the central nervous system and its main component, the myelin. The majority of LDs manifests in infancy with progressive neurodegeneration. Main clinical signs are intellectual and motor function losses of already attained developmental skills. Classical LDs include lysosomal storage disorders like metachromatic leukodystrophy (MLD), peroxisomal disorders like X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD), disorders of mitochondrial dysfunction, and myelin protein defects like Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease. So far, there are only single LD disorders with effective treatment options in an early stage of disease. The increasing number of patients diagnosed with LDs emphasizes the need for novel therapeutic options. Impressive advances in biotechnology have not only led to the continuous identification of new disease genes for so far unknown LDs but also led to new effective neuroprotective and disease-modifying therapeutic approaches. This review summarizes ongoing and novel innovative treatment options for LD patients and their challenges. It includes in vitro and in vivo approaches with focus on stem cell and gene therapies, intrathecal substrate or enzyme replacement, and genome editing.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Enzyme Replacement Therapy
  • Genetic Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Leukoencephalopathies / drug therapy*
  • Leukoencephalopathies / genetics
  • Leukoencephalopathies / metabolism
  • Neuroprotective Agents / therapeutic use*


  • Neuroprotective Agents