Background: Ataxia-telangiectasia is an autosomal recessive, multi-system, and life-shortening disease caused by mutations in the ataxia-telangiectasia mutated gene. Although widely reported, there are no studies that give a comprehensive picture of this intriguing condition.
Objectives: Understand the natural history of ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T), as reported in scientific literature.
Search methods: 107 search terms were identified and divided into 17 searches. Each search was performed in PubMed, Ovid SP (MEDLINE) 1946-present, OVID EMBASE 1980 -present, Web of Science core collection, Elsevier Scopus, and Cochrane Library.
Selection criteria: All human studies that report any aspect of A-T.
Data collection and analysis: Search results were de-duplicated, data extracted (including author, publication year, country of origin, study design, population, participant characteristics, and clinical features). Quality of case-control and cohort studies was assessed by the Newcastle-Ottawa tool. Findings are reported descriptively and where possible data collated to report median (interquartile range, range) of outcomes of interest.
Main results: 1314 cases reported 2134 presenting symptoms. The most common presenting symptom was abnormal gait (1160 cases; 188 studies) followed by recurrent infections in classical ataxia-telangiectasia and movement disorders in variant ataxia-telangiectasia. 687 cases reported 752 causes of death among which malignancy was the most frequently reported cause. Median (IQR, range) age of death (n = 294) was 14 years 0 months (10 years 0 months to 23 years 3 months, 1 year 3 months to 76 years 0 months).
Conclusions: This review demonstrates the multi-system involvement in A-T, confirms that neurological symptoms are the most frequent presenting features in classical A-T but variants have diverse manifestations. We found that most individuals with A-T have life limited to teenage or early adulthood. Predominance of case reports, and case series demonstrate the lack of robust evidence to determine the natural history of A-T. We recommend population-based studies to fill this evidence gap.