Type I Alexander disease: Update and validation of the clinical evolution-based classification

Mol Genet Metab. 2023 Mar;138(3):107540. doi: 10.1016/j.ymgme.2023.107540. Epub 2023 Feb 10.


Background and objectives: Alexander disease (AxD) is a rare progressive leukodystrophy caused by autosomal dominant mutations in the Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein (GFAP) gene. Three main disease classifications are currently in use, the traditional one defined by the age of onset, and two other based on clinical features at onset and brain MRI findings. Recently, we proposed a new classification, which is based on taking into consideration not only the presenting features, but also data related to the clinical course. In this study, we tried to apply this modified classification system to the cases of pediatric-onset AxD described in literature.

Methods: A literature review was conducted in PubMed for articles published between 1949 to date. Articles that reported no patient's medical history and the articles about Adult-onset AxD were excluded. We included patients with a confirmed diagnosis of pediatric-onset AxD and of whom information about age and symptoms at onset, developmental milestones and loss of motor and language skills was available.

Results: Clinical data from 205 patients affected with pediatric-onset AxD were retrospectively reviewed. Among these, we identified 65 patients, of whom we had enough information about the clinical course and developmental milestones, and we assessed their disease evolutionary trajectories over time.

Discussion: Our results confirm that patients with Type I AxD might be classified into four subgroups (Ia, Ib, Ic, Id) basing on follow up data. In fact, despite the great variability of phenotypes in AxD, there are some shared trajectories of the disease evolution over time.

Keywords: Alexander disease; Astrocytopathy; GFAP; Leukodystrophy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alexander Disease* / diagnosis
  • Alexander Disease* / genetics
  • Disease Progression
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein / genetics
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Phenotype
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein