Dominantly inherited spinocerebellar ataxias (SCAs) are associated with phenotypes that range from pure cerebellar to multisystemic. The list of implicated genes has lengthened in the past 5 years with the inclusion of SCA37/DAB1, SCA45/FAT2, SCA46/PLD3, SCA47/PUM1, SCA48/STUB1, SCA50/NPTX1, SCA25/PNPT1, SCA49/SAM9DL, and SCA27B/FGF14. In some patients, co-occurrence of multiple potentially pathogenic variants can explain variable penetrance or more severe phenotypes. Given this extreme clinical and genetic heterogeneity, genome sequencing should become the diagnostic tool of choice but is still not available in many clinical settings. Treatments tested in phase 2 and phase 3 studies, such as riluzole and transcranial direct current stimulation of the cerebellum and spinal cord, have given conflicting results. To enable early intervention, preataxic carriers of pathogenic variants should be assessed with biomarkers, such as neurofilament light chain and brain MRI; these biomarkers could also be used as outcome measures, given that clinical outcomes are not useful in the preataxic phase. The development of bioassays measuring the concentration of the mutant protein (eg, ataxin-3) might facilitate monitoring of target engagement by gene therapies.
Copyright © 2023 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.