• Dentatorubral and pallidoluysian atrophy;
  • Huntington's disease;
  • Dentate nucleus


Dentatorubral and pallidoluysian atrophy (DRPLA) is an autosomal dominant disorder that clinically overlaps with Huntington's disease (HD) and manifests combinations of chorea, myoclonus, seizures, ataxia, and dementia. DRPLA is caused by a CAG triplet repeat (CTG-B37) expansion coding for polyglutamine on chromosome 12 and exhibits the genetic phenomenon of anticipation. This neurodegenerative disease has only rarely been reported in non-Japanese pedigrees, and there are only a few neuropathological studies in genetically confirmed patients. We report 10 cases of DRPLA from two North American and two British pedigrees in which CTG-B37 expansions have been demonstrated within each kindred (54-83 repeats), individually in 8 of the 10 cases, and describe the neuropathological findings in 4 cases. Members of DRPLA kindreds have a wide range of clinical phenotypes and markedly variable ages at onset. The neuropathological spectrum is centered around the cerebellifugal and pallidofugal systems, but neurodegenerative changes can be found in many nuclei, tracts, and systems. Evidence of CTG-B37 triplet repeat expansion should be sought in HD-like cases that are negative for expanded triplet repeats within the HD IT15 gene or in autopsy cases with degeneration of the dentatorubral or pallidoluysian systems.