Juvenile metachromatic leukodystrophy. Clinical, biochemical, and neuropathologic studies in nine new cases

Arch Neurol. 1980 Jan;37(1):42-6. doi: 10.1001/archneur.1980.00500500072011.


We describe nine patients with metachromatic leukodystrophy. Seven patients had the juvenile form; in two others, the age at onset was 1 year, but the clinical course was different from the late infantile form. The age at onset ranged from 1 to 18 years; the duration ranged from three to 17 years. Mental retardation associated with motor impairment and pathological EEG and electromyographic findings were the main clinical findings. In patients with early onset, mental retardation was almost the only symptom for the first ten years. Segmental demyelination, remyelination, onion bulb formation, and occasional perivascular macrophages containing metachromatic lipid were the main findings in sural nerves studied after biopsy. The mean arylsulfatase-A (ASA) activity was 1.3 nmoles of nitrocatechol sulfate per milligram of protein per 30 minutes in peripheral leukocytes of the patients, 62.0 in the heterozygotes, and 139.0 in the controls. The ASA band could not be detected in enzyme electrophoresis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Axons / ultrastructure
  • Biopsy
  • Brain / pathology
  • Cerebroside-Sulfatase / metabolism
  • Child
  • Child Development
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / enzymology
  • Leukocytes / enzymology
  • Leukodystrophy, Metachromatic / diagnosis*
  • Leukodystrophy, Metachromatic / enzymology
  • Leukodystrophy, Metachromatic / genetics
  • Male
  • Myelin Sheath / ultrastructure
  • Sural Nerve / pathology


  • Cerebroside-Sulfatase