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J Neurol. 2003 Jan;250(1):17-21.

GM2 gangliosidosis variant B1 neuroradiological findings.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Obstetrics, and Reproductive Medicine, University of Siena, Viale M. Bracci - Le scotte, 53100 Siena, Italy.


Variant B1 is a rare type of GM2 gangliosidosis. Clinically, it shows a wide spectrum of forms ranging from infantile to juvenile. We report the first magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings from three patients affected by GM2 gangliosidosis variant B1, two presenting with the infantile form and one with the juvenile form. The MRI appearances of the two patients with the infantile form disease are congruent with those reported for the early-onset type of both Tay-Sachs and Sandhoff diseases, and are characterized by early involvement of the basal ganglia and thalamus with cortical atrophy appearing later. In contrast, the patient with the juvenile form of variant B1 showed progressive cortical and white-matter atrophy of the supratentorial structures and, to a lesser extent, the infratentorial structures. No basal ganglia or thalamic anomalies were observed. Because in the adult forms of both Tay-Sachs and Sandhoff diseases a progressive cerebellar atrophy represents the only abnormality detectable, it appears that an MRI pattern peculiar to GM2 gangliosidosis can be defined. This pattern ranges from the basal ganglia injury associated with the early and severe demyelination process noted in the infantile form of the disease, to cerebellar atrophy with no supratentorial anomalies in the adult form. An "intermediate" MRI picture, with cortical atrophy and mild cerebellar atrophy, but without basal ganglia impairment, can be observed in the juvenile form. In addition, our investigations suggest that MRI abnormalities in GM2 gangliosidosis correlate with the clinical form of the disease rather than with the biochemical variant of the enzymatic defect.

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