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Arch Neurol. 2002 Dec;59(12):1952-3.

A family with spinocerebellar ataxia type 8 expansion and vitamin E deficiency ataxia.

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  • 1Department of Neurological and Psychiatric Sciences, University of Florence, Italy.



Ataxia with vitamin E deficiency is a recessive autosomal neurodegenerative disorder resembling the Friedreich ataxia phenotype but is due to mutations in the alpha-tocopherol transfer protein (TTPA) gene. In a recent article, we described a patient with ataxia carrying reduced serum vitamin E levels and showing CTA/CTG expansions of 320 triplet repeats in the SCA8 gene.


To perform a screening of the TTPA gene in the patient and to evaluate the effects of treatment with vitamin E on the patient's neurologic disturbances.


We performed a single-strand conformation polymorphism and nucleotide sequence analysis of the 5 exons of the TTPA gene in the patient's family members.


The results indicated the patient to be a compound heterozygote for 2 mutations (in exon 3), each transmitted by one of the 2 parents, yielding a nonfunctional protein.


We describe for the first time, to our knowledge, a mutated form of the TTPA gene in a patient also carrying an expansion in the SCA8 gene. The lack of improvement in the patient's symptoms on supplementation with alpha-tocopherol suggests that the SCA8 mutations may act in the neurodegeneration process, worsening the neurologic signs caused by the vitamin E deficit, and it could be speculated that the co-occurrence of mutant alleles for 2 distinct loci may influence the clinical course of the disease.

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