Atypical late infantile and juvenile forms of neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis and their diagnostic difficulties.
We have collected 122 late-infantile neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (LINCL, CLN2) and 191 juvenile NCL (JNCL, CLN3) cases, diagnosed on the basis of age-at-onset, clinical symptomatology, and pathological findings and representing the most common forms of NCL in the United States, and Europe. However, careful analysis of available data revealed that about 80% of cases show typical and 20% show atypical clinical course and/or pathological findings and thus, may represent variants of LINCL and JNCL, respectively. Recent progress in the biochemistry and molecular genetics of NCL inclined us to reevaluate these atypical NCL cases. The gene responsible for LINCL has not yet been identified, except for the Finnish variant. Accumulation of subunit c of mitochondrial ATP synthase, to curvilinear profiles, is found in LINCL cases. A novel variant of LINCL, with predominantly granular profiles in the lysosomal storage, as well as normal excretion of subunit c in urine samples, was found in five cases. When the palmitoyle-protein thioesterase (PPT) was studied in these five cases, it was found that the level was deficient, suggesting that they are not LINCL, but the infantile form of neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (INCL). Using molecular genetic techniques in the typical JNCL cases, common 1.02 kb deletion to CLN3 was found in 23/27 (homozygotes) and in one allele 4/27 (heterozygotes) in affected pedigrees. In atypical JNCL pedigrees, it was found in 5/16 heterozygotes, while in 1/5 pedigrees, a novel mutation of one atypical JNCL where a single amino acid substitution at 295 E-->K was found in one allele. None of the atypical JNCL cases was homozygote. In atypical JNCL cases where mutation in CLN3 has not been identified (11/16 probands), several possibilities may exist. The phenotype may be caused by a yet undefined mutation in CLN3 or may be due to phenotypically overlapping with other forms of NCL. Pheno/genotypic correlation and the diagnostic difficulties are discussed.