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Handb Clin Neurol. 2013;111:297-306. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-52891-9.00035-X.

X-linked mental deficiency.

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Reference Center for Fragile X and other X-linked Intellectual Disabilities and Department of Pediatric Neurology, Hôpital Femme Mère Enfant, CHU de Lyon, Lyon, France. Electronic address:


Ten percent of cases of intellectual deficiency in boys are caused by genes located on the X chromosome. X-linked mental retardation (XLMR) includes more than 200 syndromes and 80 genes identified to date. The fragile X syndrome is the most frequent syndrome, due to a dynamic mutation with a CGG triplet amplification. Mental retardation is virtually always present. Phonological and syntactic impairments are often combined with pragmatic language impairment and visuospatial reasoning difficulties. A minority fulfill the criteria for autism. In girls, the clinical expression of the complete mutation varies according to the X chromosome inactivation profile. Several XLMR occur as severe early onset encephalopathies: Lowe oculocerebrorenal syndrome, ATR-X syndrome (alpha thalassemia/mental retardation X-linked), Allan-Herdon-Dudley syndrome (MCT8 gene). Two genes, ARX (X-LAG; Partington syndrome) and MECP2 (Rett syndrome in females; mild MR with spastic diplegia/psychotic problems in males) are associated with various phenotypes, according to the mutation involved. Oligophrenine 1 (OPHN-1) gene mutations lead to vermal dysplasia. PQBP1 gene mutations (Renpenning syndrome) are responsible for moderate to severe mental deficiency, microcephaly, and small stature. Although some forms of XLMR are not very specific and the phenotype for each given gene is somewhat heterogeneous, a clinical diagnostic strategy is emerging.

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