Early recognition of patients with leukodystrophies

Curr Probl Pediatr Adolesc Health Care. 2022 Dec;52(12):101311. doi: 10.1016/j.cppeds.2022.101311. Epub 2022 Dec 2.


Leukodystrophies are defined as differences in normal myelin development and maintenance in the central nervous system. They typically present as white matter imaging abnormalities in young children with delayed developmental milestones. As the scientific community begins to better understand and research the mechanisms underlying leukodystrophies, clinical trials and approved therapies for specific disorders are becoming available. These interventions, ranging from repurposing of existing small molecules to recently approved gene therapies, are highly dependent on early diagnosis. It is essential for pediatricians to identify affected individuals promptly, but they face challenges including lack of awareness of the disorders and nonspecific symptom presentation (e.g., cognitive or motor developmental delay). This review provides five hypothetical clinical presentations and describes the disease mechanisms, typical symptoms, and treatments currently available for common leukodystrophies: Krabbe Disease, Aicardi Goutières Syndrome (AGS), Metachromatic leukodystrophy (MLD), Alexander Disease (AxD), Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease (PMD), and X-Linked Adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD.) This review educates pediatricians to recognize the presentation of leukodystrophies in affected children. These clinical vignettes can serve as a framework for pediatricians to identify potentially treatable rare disorders among their patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenoleukodystrophy* / diagnosis
  • Adrenoleukodystrophy* / genetics
  • Autoimmune Diseases of the Nervous System*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Leukodystrophy, Globoid Cell* / diagnosis
  • Leukodystrophy, Globoid Cell* / genetics
  • Leukodystrophy, Metachromatic* / diagnosis
  • Leukodystrophy, Metachromatic* / genetics
  • Nervous System Malformations*