Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis Type 6 (CLN6) clinical findings and molecular diagnosis: Costa Rica's experience

Orphanet J Rare Dis. 2022 Jan 10;17(1):13. doi: 10.1186/s13023-021-02162-z.


Background: Commonly known as Batten disease, the neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses (NCLs) are a genetically heterogeneous group of rare pediatric lysosomal storage disorders characterized by the intracellular accumulation of autofluorescent material (known as lipofuscin), progressive neurodegeneration, and neurological symptoms. In 2002, a disease-causing NCL mutation in the CLN6 gene was identified (c.214G > T) in the Costa Rican population, but the frequency of this mutation among local Batten disease patients remains incompletely characterized, as do clinical and demographic attributes for this rare patient population.

Objective: To describe the main sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of patients with a clinical diagnosis for Batten Disease treated at the National Children's Hospital in Costa Rica and to characterize via molecular testing their causative mutations.

Methods: DNA extracted from buccal swabs was used for CLN6 gene sequencing. Participants' sociodemographic and clinical characteristics were also obtained from their medical records.

Results: Nine patients with a clinical diagnosis of Batten disease were identified. Genetic sequencing determined the presence of the previously described Costa Rican homozygous mutation in 8 of 9 cases. One patient did not have mutations in the CLN6 gene. In all cases where the Costa Rican CLN6 mutation was present, it was accompanied by a substitution in intron 2. Patients were born in 4 of the 7 Costa Rican provinces, with an average onset of symptoms close to 4 years of age. No parental consanguinity was present in pedigrees. Initial clinical manifestations varied between patients but generally included: gait disturbances, language problems, visual impairment, seizures and psychomotor regression. Cortical and cerebellar atrophy was a constant finding when neuroimaging was performed. Seizure medication was a common element of treatment regimens.

Conclusions: This investigation supports that the previously characterized c.214G > T mutation is the most common causative NCL mutation in the Costa Rican population. This mutation is geographically widespread among Costa Rican NCL patients and yields a clinical presentation similar to that observed for CLN6 NCL patients in other geographies.

Keywords: Batten disease; CNL6; Lysosomal storage disease; Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis; Variant late infantile NCL; vLINCL.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Costa Rica
  • Humans
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Neuronal Ceroid-Lipofuscinoses* / diagnosis
  • Neuronal Ceroid-Lipofuscinoses* / genetics
  • Pedigree


  • CLN6 protein, human
  • Membrane Proteins