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J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 2001 Nov;60(11):1021-31.

Refsum disease, peroxisomes and phytanic acid oxidation: a review.

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Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam, Department of Pediatrics, The Netherlands.


Refsum disease was first recognized as a distinct disease entity by Sigvald Refsum in the 1940s. The discovery of markedly elevated levels of the branched-chain fatty acid phytanic acid in certain patients marked Refsum disease as a disorder of lipid metabolism. Although it was immediately recognized that the accumulation of phytanic acid is due to its deficient breakdown in Refsum disease patients, the true enzymatic defect remained mysterious until recently. A major breakthrough in this respect was the resolution of the mechanism of phytanic acid alpha-oxidation in humans. In this review we describe the many aspects of Refsum disease from the clinical signs and symptoms to the enzyme and molecular defect plus the recent identification of genetic heterogeneity in Refsum disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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