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Clinical features and neuropathology of autosomal dominant spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA17)

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Abstract

Autosomal dominant spinocerebellar ataxias (SCAs) are a group of neurodegenerative disorders clinically characterized by late-onset ataxia and variable other manifestations. Genetically and clinically, SCA is highly heterogeneous. Recently, CAG repeat expansions in the gene encoding TATA-binding protein (TBP) have been found in a new form of SCA, which has been designated SCA17. To estimate the frequency of SCA17 among white SCA patients and to define the phenotypic variability, we determined the frequency of SCA17 in a large sample of 1,318 SCA patients. In total, 15 patients in four autosomal dominant SCA families had CAG/CAA repeat expansions in the TBP gene ranging from 45 to 54 repeats. The clinical features of our SCA17 patients differ from other SCA types by manifesting with psychiatric abnormalities and dementia. The neuropathology of SCA17 can be classified as a “pure cerebellar” or “cerebello-olivary” form of ataxia. However, intranuclear neuronal inclusion bodies with immunoreactivity to anti-TBP and antipolyglutamine were much more widely distributed throughout the brain gray matter than in other SCAs. Based on clinical and genetic data, we conclude that SCA17 is rare among white SCA patients. SCA17 should be considered in sporadic and familial cases of ataxia with accompanying psychiatric symptoms and dementia.

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