Neuropathology of Salla disease

Acta Neuropathol. 1988;75(5):481-90. doi: 10.1007/BF00687135.


A neuropathological study was performed on two patients with Salla disease, one male and one female, from different families. They both died at the age of 41 years. Both patients showed increased excretion of free sialic acid in the urine, psychomotor retardation starting in the 1st year of life, ataxia and spasticity. Several family members of both families were affected with the same disease indicating the hereditary character of the disorder. The neuropathological investigation revealed strikingly similar changes in the two cases. Macroscopically the cerebral white matter was severely reduced. Histologically marked loss of axons and myelin sheaths was accompanied by pronounced astrocytic proliferation. The remaining axons frequently showed ovoid swellings surrounded by a myelin sheath. The reduction of the number of myelin sheaths seemed proportional to the numerical reduction of axons. Many cortical nerve cells displayed in relation to age an abnormal amount of lipofuscin. Neurofibrillary tangles were observed in nerve cells of the neo-cortex, nucleus basalis of Meynert and locus ceruleus. Cerebellum showed moderate loss of Purkinje cells. In the spinal cord axonal degeneration was observed in both ascending and descending tracts.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain / ultrastructure
  • Brain Diseases, Metabolic / genetics
  • Brain Diseases, Metabolic / pathology*
  • Brain Diseases, Metabolic / urine
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism, Inborn Errors / genetics
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism, Inborn Errors / pathology*
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism, Inborn Errors / urine
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neurofibrils / pathology
  • Sialic Acids / urine*
  • Spinal Cord / pathology


  • Sialic Acids