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Alexander disease

Other Names for this Disease
  • Alexanders leukodystrophy
  • Megalencephaly in infancy accompanied by progressive spasticity and dementia
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Alexander disease is a type of leukodystrophy. It is characterized by the destruction of white matter in the brain and abnormal protein deposits known as Rosenthal fibers. Most cases of Alexander disease begin before age 2 years (the infantile form). Symptoms of the infantile form include an enlarged brain and head, seizures, stiffness in the arms and/or legs, mental retardation, and delayed physical development. Less frequently, onset occurs later in childhood (the juvenile form) or adulthood. Common problems in juvenile and adult forms of Alexander disease include speech abnormalities, swallowing difficulties, and poor coordination.[1][2] Alexander disease is caused by mutations in the GFAP gene. While this condition is inherited in an autosomal dominant fashion, most cases result from new mutations in the gene.[1]
Last updated: 9/21/2011


  1. Alexander disease. Genetics Home Reference. 2008; Accessed 9/21/2011.
  2. Alexander disease. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). 2010; Accessed 9/21/2011.
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Basic Information

In Depth Information

  • The Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) is an catalog of human genes and genetic disorders. Each entry has a summary of related medical articles. It is meant for health care professionals and researchers. OMIM is maintained by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. 
  • Orphanet is a European reference portal for information on rare diseases and orphan drugs.  Access to this database is free of charge.
  • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Alexander disease. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.

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