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Clin Neuropathol. 1999 Jul-Aug;18(4):198-204.

An autopsy case of spinocerebellar ataxia type 6 with mental symptoms of schizophrenia and dementia.

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  • 1Department of Neuropathology, Neurological Institute, Faculty of Medicine, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan.


We herein report the findings of an autopsy case of spinocerebellar ataxia type 6 (SCA6) which revealed a mild CAG-repeat expansion in the alpha1A voltage-dependent calcium channel (CACNL1A4) gene on chromosome 19p13. A 39-year-old man who showed slowly progressive mental disorders and gait ataxia was clinically diagnosed to have cortical cerebellar atrophy (CCA) and schizophrenia. None of his relatives revealed any symptoms such as spinocerebellar disease, however, his younger brother had shown some mental disorders. The patient eventually died at 52 years of age, and an autopsy was thus performed. The main histopathological findings included a severe neuronal cell loss of Purkinje cells and inferior olivary nuclei. The number of Purkinje cells in our case had decreased severely in comparison to that in either OPCA or age-matched control cases, and the Purkinje cells in the cerebellar hemisphere were more affected than those in the cerebellar vermis. The neurons of the dentate nucleus and pontine nuclei were well-preserved, and no pathological changes were seen in cerebral cortices or basal ganglia. The clinicopathological findings were similar to those of late cortical cerebellar atrophy (LCCA), Holmes' cortical cerebellar atrophy (Holmes type) or SCA6 cases reported previously. Using genomic DNA extracted from archival paraffin-embedded sections in the frontal lobe, cerebral basal ganglia and cerebellum, the identical mild CAG-repeat expansions in the CACNL1A4/SCA6 gene were revealed in all samples examined. These findings suggest that in cases with LCCA or Holmes type atrophy, we should thus examine the CAG-repeat expansions in the SCA6 gene, and the genomic DNA extracted from paraffin-embedded sections was thus found to be useful in diagnosing SCA6 retrospectively.

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