Clinical spectrum of AIFM1-associated disease in an Irish family, from mild neuropathy to severe cerebellar ataxia with colour blindness

J Peripher Nerv Syst. 2019 Dec;24(4):348-353. doi: 10.1111/jns.12348. Epub 2019 Oct 10.


Mutations in apoptosis-inducing factor mitochondrion-associated-1 (AIFM1) cause X-linked peripheral neuropathy (Cowchock syndrome, CMT4X); however, more recently a cerebellar presentation has been described. We describe a large Irish family with seven affected males. They presented with a variable age of onset, 18 months to 39 years of age. All developed variably present sensorineural deafness, peripheral neuropathy, cerebellar ataxia, and pyramidal involvement. In addition, three had colour vision deficiency. Scale for the assessment and rating of ataxia ranged 2 to 23/40, while Charcot-Marie-Tooth neuropathy score 2 varied between 7 and 13/36. All individuals had normal cognitive assessment. Neurophysiology demonstrated length-dependent large-fibre sensorimotor axonal neuropathy, with particular involvement of superficial radial sensory responses. Brain imaging, performed in four, revealed varying extent of cerebellar atrophy, and white matter changes in one. Optical coherence tomography was abnormal in one, who had unrelated eye pathology. Four obligate female carriers were assessed clinically, two of them neurophysiologically; all were unaffected. Whole genome sequencing demonstrated a previously reported hemizygous AIFM1 mutation. Analysis for mutations in other genes associated with colour deficiency was negative. AIFM1-associated phenotype in this family demonstrated significant variability. To our knowledge, this is the first report of AIFM1-associated colour blindness. Superficial radial nerve was particularly affected neurophysiologically, which could represent a phenotypic marker towards this specific genetic diagnosis.

Keywords: AIFM1; X-linked Charcot-Marie-Tooth type 4 (CMT4X); X-linked cerebellar ataxia.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Apoptosis Inducing Factor / genetics*
  • Cerebellar Ataxia* / etiology
  • Cerebellar Ataxia* / genetics
  • Cerebellar Ataxia* / physiopathology
  • Color Vision Defects* / etiology
  • Color Vision Defects* / genetics
  • Color Vision Defects* / physiopathology
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural* / etiology
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural* / genetics
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural* / physiopathology
  • Hereditary Sensory and Motor Neuropathy* / complications
  • Hereditary Sensory and Motor Neuropathy* / genetics
  • Hereditary Sensory and Motor Neuropathy* / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Ireland
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pedigree
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • AIFM1 protein, human
  • Apoptosis Inducing Factor