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Adv Genet. 2001;45:1-34.

Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses: classification and diagnosis.

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  • 1Department of Pathological Neurobiology, New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities, Staten Island 10314, USA. BATTENKW@AOL.COM


The neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses (NCLs) are neurodegenerative disorders characterized by accumulation of ceroid lipopigment in lysosomes in various tissues and organs. The childhood forms of the NCLs represent the most common neurogenetic disorders of childhood and are inherited in an autosomal-recessive mode. The adult form of NCL is rare and shows either an autosomal-recessive or autosomal dominant mode of inheritance. Currently, five genes associated with various childhood forms of NCLs, designated CLN1, CLN2, CLN3, CLN5, and CLN8, have been isolated and characterized. Two of these genes, CLN1 and CLN2, encode lysosomal enzymes: palmitoyl protein thioesterase 1 (PPT1) and tripetidyl peptidase 1 (TPP1), respectively. CLN3, CLN5, and CLN8 encode proteins of predicted transmembrane topology, whose function has not been characterized yet. Two other genes, CLN6 and CLN7, have been assigned recently to small chromosomal regions. Gene(s) associated with the adult form of NCLs (CLN4) are at present unknown. This study summarizes the current classification and new diagnostic criteria of NCLs based on clinicopathological, biochemical, and molecular genetic data. Material includes 159 probands with NCL (37 CLNI, 72 classical CLN2, 10 variant LINCL, and 40 CLN3) collected at the New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities (IBR) as well as a comprehensive review of the literature. The results of our study indicate that although only biochemical and molecular genetic studies allow for definitive diagnosis, ultrastructural studies of the biopsy material are still very useful. Thus, although treatments for NCLs are not available at present, the diagnosis has become better defined.

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