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Juvenile neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (Batten disease): current insights

Authors Ostergaard J

Received 4 May 2016

Accepted for publication 11 May 2016

Published 1 August 2016 Volume 2016:6 Pages 73—83


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Prof. Dr. Thomas Müller

John R Ostergaard

Department of Paediatrics, Aarhus University Hospital, Centre for Rare Diseases, Aarhus, Denmark

Abstract: The present review is focused on juvenile neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (JNCL; Batten disease) due to a mutation in CLN3. Functional vision impairment occurring around 5–6 years of age is the first symptom in more than 80% of patients. Approximately 2 years later (though sometimes simultaneously), obvious signs of cognitive impairment appear. Behavior problems can occur in advance, especially in boys. These include anxious and depressed mood, aggressive behavior, and hallucinations, and even psychotic symptoms. Following the teens, severe dementia is present, including loss of memory, attention, and general reasoning abilities, as well as loss of independent adaptive skills such as mobility, feeding, and communicating. Sleep abnormalities, such as settling problems, nocturnal awakenings, and nightmares, are reported in more than half of patients. The vast majority, if not all, patients develop seizures, starting at approximately 10 years of age. Generalized tonic–clonic seizure occurs as the only type of seizure in approximately half of patients, and in combination with partial seizures in a third of patients. There seems to be no difference in seizure severity according to sex or genotype, and there is great variation in seizure activity among patients. Soon after diagnosis, patients begin to have slight ataxic symptoms, and at adolescence extrapyramidal symptoms (rigidity, bradykinesia, slow steps with flexion in hips and knees) occur with increasing frequency. Chewing and swallowing difficulties emerge as well, and food intake is hampered in the late teens. Disabling periodically involuntary movements may occur as well. A progressive cardiac involvement with repolarization disturbances, ventricular hypertrophy, and sinus-node dysfunction, ultimately leading to severe bradycardia and/or other conduction abnormalities, starts in the mid-teens. Patients are usually bedridden at 20 years of age, and death usually occurs in the third decade of life.

Keywords: Batten disease, neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis, neurodegenerative disease, clinical course, dementia, diagnostic algorithm, juvenile

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