Condition: Alexander Disease

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Members in the community range from 2 to 6 years old

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About Alexander Disease

Alexander disease is named after the physician who first described the condition in 1949 (WS Alexander). It is an extremely rare, usually progressive and fatal, neurological disorder. Initially it was detected most often during infancy or early childhood, but as better diagnostic tools have become available has been found to occur with similar frequency at all stages of life. Alexander disease has historically been included among the leukodystrophies--diseases of the white matter of the brain. These diseases affect the fatty material (myelin) that forms an insulating wrapping (sheath) around certain nerve fibers (axons). Myelin enables the efficient transmission of nerve impulses and provides the "whitish" appearance of the so-called white matter of the brain. There is a marked deficit in myelin formation in most early onset cases of Alexander disease, and sometimes in later onset cases, particularly in the front (frontal lobes) of the brain's two hemispheres (cerebrum). However, white matter defects are sometimes not observed in later onset cases. Instead, the unifying feature among all Alexander disease cases is the presence of abnormal protein aggregates known as "Rosenthal fibers" throughout certain regions of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system [CNS]). These aggregates occur in astrocytes, a particular cell type in the CNS that helps maintain a normal CNS environment. Accordingly, it is more appropriate to consider Alexander disease a disease of astrocytes (an astrogliopathy) than a white matter disease (leukodystrophy).

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Last updated on May 21 2018 at 00:13
Disclaimer: The list and ratings above are for informational purposes only, and is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your physician, pharmacist or other healthcare professional. The goal of the information is to provide you with a comprehensive view of all available treatments, but should not be construed to indicate that use of any one treatment is safe, appropriate, or effective for you. Decisions about use of a new treatment, or about a change in your current treatment plan, should be in consultation with your doctor or other healthcare professional.