Disease at a Glance

Summary
Metachromatic leukodystrophy is an inherited condition characterized by the accumulation of fats called sulfatides in cells, especially cells of the nervous system. This accumulation results in progressive destruction of white matter of the brain, which consists of nerve fibers covered by myelin. Affected individuals experience progressive deterioration of intellectual functions and motor skills, such as the ability to walk. They also develop loss of sensation in the extremities, incontinence, seizures, paralysis, inability to speak, blindness, and hearing loss. Eventually they lose awareness of their surroundings and become unresponsive. This condition is inherited in an autosomal recessive pattern and is caused by genetic changes in the ARSA and PSAP genes.
Estimated Number of People with this Disease
In the U.S., this disease is estimated to be fewer than

50,000

What Information Does GARD Have For This Disease?

Many rare diseases have limited information. Currently GARD is able to provide the following information for this disease:

*Data may be currently unavailable to GARD at this time.
When do symptoms of this disease begin?
The most common ages for symptoms of a disease to begin is called age of onset. Age of onset can vary for different diseases and may be used by a doctor to determine the diagnosis. For some diseases, symptoms may begin in a single age range or several age ranges. For other diseases, symptoms may begin any time during a person's life.
Prenatal
Before Birth
Newborn
Birth-4 weeks
Infant Selected
1-23 months
Child Selected
2-11 years
Adolescent Selected
12-18 years
Adult Selected
19-65 years
Older Adult
65+ years
The common ages for symptoms to begin in this disease are shown above by the colored icon(s).

Symptoms

These symptoms may be different from person to person. Some people may have more symptoms than others and symptoms can range from mild to severe. This list does not include every symptom.
This disease might cause these symptoms:
Nervous System

41 Symptoms

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Nervous System

The nervous system is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. Common symptoms of problems in the nervous system include trouble moving, speaking, swallowing, breathing, or learning. Problems with memory, senses, or mood may also occur. Nervous system diseases are usually diagnosed and treated by neurologists.

Causes

This section is currently in development. 

Inheritance

All individuals inherit two copies of most genes. The number of copies of a gene that need to have a disease-causing variant affects the way a disease is inherited. This disease is inherited in the following pattern(s):

Questions:

Last Updated: Nov. 8, 2021