Hypomyelination and congenital cataract: Neuroimaging features of a novel inherited white matter disorder

Andrea Rossi, R. Biancheri, F. Zara, C. Bruno, G. Uziel, M. S. Van Der Knaap, C. Minetti, P. Tortori-Donati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Hypomyelination and congenital cataract (HCC) is an autosomal recessive white matter disease caused by deficiency of hyccin, a membrane protein implicated in both central and peripheral myelination. We aimed to describe the neuroimaging features of this novel entity. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A systematic analysis of patients with unclassified leukoencephalopathies admitted to our institutions revealed 10 children with congenital cataract, slowly progressive neurologic impairment, and diffuse white matter abnormalities on neuroimaging. Psychomotor developmental delay was evident after the first year of life. Peripheral neuropathy was demonstrated by neurophysiologic studies in 9 children. The available neuroimaging studies were retrospectively reviewed. RESULTS: In all patients, neuroimaging revealed diffuse involvement of the supratentorial white matter associated with preservation of both cortical and deep gray matter structures. Supratentorial white matter hypomyelination was detected in all patients; 7 patients also had evidence of variably extensive areas of increased white matter water content. Deep cerebellar white matter hypomyelination was found in 6 patients. Older patients had evidence of white matter bulk loss and gliosis. Proton MR spectroscopy showed variable findings, depending on the stage of the disease. Sural nerve biopsy revealed hypomyelinated nerve fibers. Mutations in the DRCTNNB1A gene on chromosome 7p15.3, causing complete or severe deficiency of hyccin, were demonstrated in all patients. CONCLUSIONS: HCC is characterized by a combined pattern of primary myelin deficiency and secondary neurodegenerative changes. In the proper clinical setting, recognition of suggestive neuroimaging findings should prompt appropriate genetic investigations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-305
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Neuroradiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology


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