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    Alexander Disease

    Important
    It is possible that the main title of the report Alexander Disease is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.

    Synonyms

    • dysmyelogenic leukodystrophy
    • dysmyelogenic leukodystrophy-megalobare
    • fibrinoid degeneration of astrocytes
    • fibrinoid leukodystrophy
    • hyaline panneuropathy
    • leukodystrophy with rosenthal fibers
    • megalencephaly with hyaline inclusion
    • megalencephaly with hyaline panneuropathy

    Disorder Subdivisions

    • None

    General Discussion

    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).

    Resources

    March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation
    1275 Mamaroneck Avenue
    White Plains, NY 10605
    Tel: (914)997-4488
    Fax: (914)997-4763
    Tel: (888)663-4637
    Email: Askus@marchofdimes.com
    Internet: http://www.marchofdimes.com

    United Leukodystrophy Foundation
    224 N. 2nd St.
    Suite 2
    DeKalb, IL 60115
    Tel: (815)748-3211
    Tel: (800)728-5483
    Email: office@ulf.org
    Internet: http://www.ulf.org/

    ELA - European Association Against Leukodystrophies
    2, rue Mi-les-Vignes
    54521
    Laxou Cedex, 61024
    France
    Tel: 33383309334
    Fax: 33383300068
    Email: ela@ela-asso.com
    Internet: http://www.ela-asso.com

    NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
    P.O. Box 5801
    Bethesda, MD 20824
    Tel: (301)496-5751
    Fax: (301)402-2186
    Tel: (800)352-9424
    TDD: (301)468-5981
    Internet: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/

    Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center
    PO Box 8126
    Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126
    Tel: (301)251-4925
    Fax: (301)251-4911
    Tel: (888)205-2311
    TDD: (888)205-3223
    Internet: http://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/GARD/

    Madisons Foundation
    PO Box 241956
    Los Angeles, CA 90024
    Tel: (310)264-0826
    Fax: (310)264-4766
    Email: getinfo@madisonsfoundation.org
    Internet: http://www.madisonsfoundation.org

    For a Complete Report:

    This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). A copy of the complete report can be downloaded free from the NORD website for registered users. The complete report contains additional information including symptoms, causes, affected population, related disorders, standard and investigational therapies (if available), and references from medical literature. For a full-text version of this topic, go to www.rarediseases.org and click on Rare Disease Database under "Rare Disease Information".

    The information provided in this report is not intended for diagnostic purposes. It is provided for informational purposes only. NORD recommends that affected individuals seek the advice or counsel of their own personal physicians.

    It is possible that the title of this topic is not the name you selected. Please check the Synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and Disorder Subdivision(s) covered by this report

    This disease entry is based upon medical information available through the date at the end of the topic. Since NORD's resources are limited, it is not possible to keep every entry in the Rare Disease Database completely current and accurate. Please check with the agencies listed in the Resources section for the most current information about this disorder.

    For additional information and assistance about rare disorders, please contact the National Organization for Rare Disorders at P.O. Box 1968, Danbury, CT 06813-1968; phone (203) 744-0100; web site www.rarediseases.org or email orphan@rarediseases.org

    Last Updated: 2/20/2014
    Copyright 1986, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1993, 1995, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2014 National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

    WebMD Medical Reference from the National Organization for Rare Disorders

    Last Updated: May 28, 2015
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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