Fragile X syndrome is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is not known to have any progressive neurological sequelae in adulthood. However, a neurological condition involving intention tremor, ataxia, and cognitive decline has recently been identified among older male carriers of premutation alleles of the FMR1 gene. This condition is clinically distinct from fragile X syndrome and arises through a different molecular mechanism involving the same gene (FMR1). Characteristic findings on magnetic resonance imaging include cerebral and cerebellar volume loss and altered signal intensities of the middle cerebellar peduncles. A striking feature of this fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome is the presence of ubiquitin-positive neuronal and astroglial intranuclear inclusions. Unlike the CAG repeat expansion diseases, which lead to altered protein products, there is no known protein abnormality among FMR1 premutation carriers. Thus, inclusion formation may reflect a gain-of-function effect of the FMR1 mRNA or the CGG repeat itself. Finally, since this syndrome may represent one of the more common single-gene causes of tremor, ataxia, and dementia among older males, FMR1 DNA testing should be considered when evaluating adult patients with tremor/ataxia.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology