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Alexander Disease

National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

Important
It is possible that the main title of the report Alexander Disease is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.

Synonyms

  • dysmyelogenic leukodystrophy
  • dysmyelogenic leukodystrophy-megalobare
  • fibrinoid degeneration of astrocytes
  • fibrinoid leukodystrophy
  • hyaline panneuropathy
  • leukodystrophy with rosenthal fibers
  • megalencephaly with hyaline inclusion
  • megalencephaly with hyaline panneuropathy

Disorder Subdivisions

  • None

General Discussion

Alexander disease is named after the physician who first described the condition in 1949 (WS Alexander). It is an extremely rare, usually progressive and fatal, neurological disorder. Initially it was detected most often during infancy or early childhood, but as better diagnostic tools have become available has been found to occur with similar frequency at all stages of life. Alexander disease has historically been included among the leukodystrophies--diseases of the white matter of the brain. These diseases affect the fatty material (myelin) that forms an insulating wrapping (sheath) around certain nerve fibers (axons). Myelin enables the efficient transmission of nerve impulses and provides the "whitish" appearance of the so-called white matter of the brain. There is a marked deficit in myelin formation in most early onset cases of Alexander disease, and sometimes in later onset cases, particularly in the front (frontal lobes) of the brain's two hemispheres (cerebrum). However, white matter defects are sometimes not observed in later onset cases. Instead, the unifying feature among all Alexander disease cases is the presence of abnormal protein aggregates known as "Rosenthal fibers" throughout certain regions of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system [CNS]). These aggregates occur in astrocytes, a particular cell type in the CNS that helps maintain a normal CNS environment. Accordingly, it is more appropriate to consider Alexander disease a disease of astrocytes (an astrogliopathy) than a white matter disease (leukodystrophy).

Resources

March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation
1275 Mamaroneck Avenue
White Plains, NY 10605
Tel: (914)997-4488
Fax: (914)997-4763
Tel: (888)663-4637
Email: Askus@marchofdimes.com
Internet: http://www.marchofdimes.com

The Arc
1825 K Street NW, Suite 1200
Washington, DC 20006
Tel: (202)534-3700
Fax: (202)534-3731
Tel: (800)433-5255
TDD: (817)277-0553
Email: info@thearc.org
Internet: http://www.thearc.org

Children's Brain Diseases Foundation
350 Parnassus Avenue
Suite 900
San Francisco, CA 94117
USA
Tel: (415)665-3003
Fax: (415)665-3003
Email: jrider6022@aol.com

United Leukodystrophy Foundation
224 N. 2nd St.
Suite 2
DeKalb, IL 60115
Tel: (815)748-3211
Tel: (800)728-5483
Email: office@ulf.org
Internet: http://www.ulf.org/

ELA - European Association Against Leukodystrophies
2, rue Mi-les-Vignes
54521
Laxou Cedex, 61024
France
Tel: 33383309334
Fax: 33383300068
Email: ela@ela-asso.com
Internet: http://www.ela-asso.com

NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
P.O. Box 5801
Bethesda, MD 20824
Tel: (301)496-5751
Fax: (301)402-2186
Tel: (800)352-9424
TDD: (301)468-5981
Internet: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/

Hunter's Hope Foundation, Inc.
PO Box 643
6368 West Quaker Street
Orchard Park, NY 14127
Tel: (716)667-1200
Fax: (716)667-1212
Tel: (877)984-4673
Email: info@huntershope.org
Internet: http://www.huntershope.org

Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center
PO Box 8126
Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126
Tel: (301)251-4925
Fax: (301)251-4911
Tel: (888)205-2311
TDD: (888)205-3223
Internet: http://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/GARD/

Madisons Foundation
PO Box 241956
Los Angeles, CA 90024
Tel: (310)264-0826
Fax: (310)264-4766
Email: getinfo@madisonsfoundation.org
Internet: http://www.madisonsfoundation.org

Let Them Hear Foundation
1900 University Avenue, Suite 101
East Palo Alto, CA 94303
Tel: (650)462-3174
Fax: (650)462-3144
Email: info@letthemhear.org
Internet: http://www.letthemhear.org

For a Complete Report

This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). A copy of the complete report can be downloaded free from the NORD website for registered users. The complete report contains additional information including symptoms, causes, affected population, related disorders, standard and investigational therapies (if available), and references from medical literature. For a full-text version of this topic, go to www.rarediseases.org and click on Rare Disease Database under "Rare Disease Information".

The information provided in this report is not intended for diagnostic purposes. It is provided for informational purposes only. NORD recommends that affected individuals seek the advice or counsel of their own personal physicians.

It is possible that the title of this topic is not the name you selected. Please check the Synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and Disorder Subdivision(s) covered by this report

This disease entry is based upon medical information available through the date at the end of the topic. Since NORD's resources are limited, it is not possible to keep every entry in the Rare Disease Database completely current and accurate. Please check with the agencies listed in the Resources section for the most current information about this disorder.

For additional information and assistance about rare disorders, please contact the National Organization for Rare Disorders at P.O. Box 1968, Danbury, CT 06813-1968; phone (203) 744-0100; web site www.rarediseases.org or email orphan@rarediseases.org

Last Updated:  6/7/2011
Copyright  1986, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1993, 1995, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2007, 2008, 2011 National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

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