Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology
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Year : 2013  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 703-704

Spinocerebellar ataxia 17: Inconsistency between phenotype and neuroimage findings

Movement Disorder and Neurogenetics Research Center, China-Japan Friendship Hospital, Beijing, China

Date of Submission26-Mar-2013
Date of Decision21-Apr-2013
Date of Acceptance18-Jun-2013
Date of Web Publication25-Oct-2013

Correspondence Address:
Weihong Gu
Movement Disorder and Neurogenetics Research Center, China-Japan Friendship Hospital, Yinghua East Street, Chaoyang District, Beijing - 100029
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Source of Support: Ministry of Health Foundation of China and National Natural Science Foundation of China, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-2327.120457

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Spinocerebellar ataxia 17 (SCA17) is an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disease clinically characterized by the presence of cerebellar ataxia in combination with variable neurological symptoms. Here we report a Chinese SCA17 family which proband's clinical manifestation was inconsistent with the neuroimage findings.

Keywords: Neuroimage, spinocerebellar ataxia 17, TATA-box binding protein gene, trinucleotide repeat

How to cite this article:
Zhang J, Gu W, Hao Y, Chen Y. Spinocerebellar ataxia 17: Inconsistency between phenotype and neuroimage findings. Ann Indian Acad Neurol 2013;16:703-4

How to cite this URL:
Zhang J, Gu W, Hao Y, Chen Y. Spinocerebellar ataxia 17: Inconsistency between phenotype and neuroimage findings. Ann Indian Acad Neurol [serial online] 2013 [cited 2020 May 31];16:703-4. Available from:

   Introduction Top

SCA17, a rare neurodegenerative disorder, is caused by a CAG trinucleotide expansion in the gene encoding TATA-box binding protein (TBP), which is a general transcription factor crucial for normal cellular function and development. [1],[2],[3] The cardinal features include cerebellar ataxia, cognitive decline, psychiatric symptoms, and  Parkinsonism More Details; with frequent occurrence of abnormal movements such as chorea or dystonia. [4] Here, we report a Chinese SCA17 family in which the proband's clinical manifestation was inconsistent with the neuroimage findings.

   Case Report Top

A Chinese family including four affected individuals with ataxia syndrome spanning two generations, whose age of onset ranged from 39 to 55 years. The clinical characteristics were somewhat variable, but all patients showed one or more features of cerebellar ataxia, dysarthria, memory deterioration and character change. The proband, a 41-year-old male, was a bank clerk who initially noticed progressive memory deterioration at age 39 when he could not remember the names of his friends occasionally. And his speech became mildly slurred thereafter. The syndromes developed slowly, but the patient was sensitive to the disease because of his positive family history of ataxia. Then he presented to our outpatient clinic at age 40. His past history was negative for alcoholism and drug poisoning.

Neurological examination showed mild ataxia. The score of scale for the assessment and rating of ataxia (SARA) was 4 with abnormalities in four items including stance (1 point), speech disturbance (1 point), finger chase (1 point), and fast alternating hand movements (1 point). He stood in natural position steadily, and also able to stand with feet together without sway. But in tandem, he could not stand for 10 s. During conversation, we found his speech slightly slurring, but easy to understand. For finger chase, he presented with a little bit dysmetria, overshooting target below 2 cm in both sides. He could complete 10 cycles of fast alternating hand movements within 10 s, but slightly irregular in both sides. The mini-mental state examination (MMSE) was normal. His muscle strength, muscle tones, limb reflexes, sensory perception, and autonomic system were also normal. However, it is very interesting that comparing the mild phenotype, the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) which was taken 1 year before his first visit showed noticeable cerebellar atrophy with moderate cerebral atrophy [Figure 1].
Figure 1: MRI scans of the proband. T2 - weighted sagittal view (a) and T1 - weighted axial view (b) showing marked cerebellar atrophy (arrow) accompanied by moderate cerebral atrophy (arrowhead)

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The pathological CAG triplet repeat expansions of spinocerebellar ataxias (SCAs) including SCA1, SCA2, SCA3, SCA6, SCA7, SCA12, SCA17, and dentatorubral-pallidoluysian atrophy (DRPLA)were analyzed by means of polymerase chain reaction (PCR), fragment analysis based on capillary electrophoresis, and clone sequencing. The results showed that the proband carried pathological allele of the TBP gene with 45 CAG repeats and normal allele with 36 repeats.

   Discussion Top

SCA17 is a rare neurodegenerative disorder that belongs to the group commonly referred to as 'polyglutaminopathies'. The normal CAG trinucleotide repeats range from 25 to 42, while observed pathogenic expansions range from 43 to 66. [5] A series of studies indicated the broad clinical spectrum of the disease, which most prevalent abnormalities include cerebellar ataxia and dementia at the onset of the disease. [4] However, reduced penetrance is known for alleles of 43-48 repeats. [6],[7]

For the case in our study, because of the positive family history, he was quite sensitive to the disease at very early stage and came to our clinic. He just noted mild memory deterioration and speech slurring. The neurological examination based on SARA showed slightly abnormalities. The expanded allele of 45 triplets locates in the intermediate range. However, the MRI showed noticeable cerebellar atrophy with moderate cerebral atrophy. The interest of this case lies in the considerably mild phenotype and intermediate repeat size, which are not in accord with the MRI findings. Normally, for SCA17, the MRI findings seem to be associated with the disease course and the repeat length. After longer durations, the atrophy is always pronounced in the cerebellum. [1] Nielsen et al., reported a patient carrying with 43 CAG repeat presented with rapid cognitive decline, but the MRI scan revealed mild atrophy of the cerebellum. [8] The patients carrying with 55 CAG repeats presented in the third decade with obviously gait ataxia and dementia, whose MRI findings indicated diffuse cortical and cerebellar atrophy. [2] Compared to these affected individuals with full blown disease state, the case had mild phenotype, but the cerebellar atrophy was noticeable.

SCA17 is a very rare disorder and the phenotypic variation is therefore not fully described. Our case contributes to a more detailed characterization of clinical picture seen in the quite early stage of SCA17 and it highlights the need for precise clinical and neuroimaging examinations of the patients. The inconsistency between phenotype and the neuroimage findings of this case might suggest that the mechanism of neural compensation might exist.

   Acknowledgement Top

We thank the patients for their cooperation in this study. This research was supported by the grant from the Ministry of Health Foundation of China and the grant from the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

   References Top

1.Nolte D, Sobanski E, Wissen A, Regula JU, Lichy C, Müller U, et al. Spinocerebellar ataxia type 17 associated with an expansion of 42 glutamine residues in TATA box binding protein gene. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 2010;81:1396-9.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Nakamura K, Jeong SY, Uchihara T, Anno M, Nagashima K, Nagashim T, et al. SCA17, a novel autosomal dominant cerebellar ataxia caused by an expanded polyglutamine in TATA-binding protein. Hum Mol Genet 2001;10:1441-8.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Reetz K, Kleiman A, Klein C, Lencer R, Zuehlke C, Brockmann K, et al. CAG repeats determine brain atrophy in spinocerebellar ataxia 17: A VBM Study. PLoS One 2011;6:e15125.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Stevanin G, Brice A. Spinocerebellar ataxia17 (SCA17) and Huntington's disease-like 4 (HDL4). Cerebellum 2008;7:170-8.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Chen CM, Lee LC, Soong BW, Fung HC, Hsu WC, Lin PY, et al. SCA17 repeat expansion: Mildly expanded CAG/CAA repeat alleles in neurological disorders and the functional implications. Clin Chim Acta 2010;411:375-80.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Zühlke C, Dalski A, Schwinger E, Finckh U. Spinocerebellar ataxia type 17: Report of a family with reduced penetrance of an unstable Gln49 TBP allele, haplotype analysis supporting a founder effect for unstable alleles and comparative analysis of SCA17 genotypes. BMC Med Genet 2005;6:27.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Oda M, Maruyama H, Komure O, Morino H, Terasawa H, Izumi Y, et al. Possible reduced penetrance of expansion of 44 to 47 CAG/CAA repeats in the TATA-binding protein gene in spinocerebellar ataxia type 17. Arch Neurol 2004;61:209-12.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Nielsen TT, Mardosiene S, Løkkegaard A, Stokholm J, Ehrenfels S, Bech S, et al. Severe and rapidly progressing cognitive phenotype in a SCA17-family with only marginally expanded CAG/CAA repeats in the TATA-box binding protein gene: A case report. BMC Neurol 2012;12:73.  Back to cited text no. 8


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