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Neuromuscul Disord. 1998 Oct;8(7):474-9.

Autosomal recessive spastic ataxia of Charlevoix-Saguenay.

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  • 1Département des Sciences Neurologiques, Centre Hospitalier Affilié Universitaire de Québec, Canada.


A form of autosomal recessive spastic ataxia unique to the Charlevoix-Saguenay area was clinically identified 20 years ago in patients from that region. This region of Québec, Canada, was once considered a genetic isolate. First noted at gait initiation, signs of ataxia slowly progress along with spasticity of the four limbs, slurred speech, and followed by distal amyotrophy. Early diagnosis relies on the presence of prominent myelinated fibers embedding retinal blood vessels at funduscopy and marked saccadic alteration of ocular smooth pursuit. Imaging of the posterior fossa shows cerebellar vermis atrophy and nerve conduction studies reveal loss of sensory and reduced motor conduction velocities. The clinical features are consistent with a developmental defect in myelination of both retinal and peripheral nerve fibers. The cause of this defect and the progressive axonal degeneration in the corticospinal and spinocerebellar tracts, as well as in the peripheral nerves is still unknown. Results of recent molecular genetic linkage analysis have located the gene locus to chromosome 13q12. Further research is needed to define where this hereditary spastic ataxia stands in the classification of the early onset spinocerebellar degenerations.

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