Differential outcomes for frontal versus posterior demyelination in childhood cerebral adrenoleukodystrophy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the most common variant of childhood cerebral adrenoleukodystrophy (cALD), demyelinating brain lesions are distributed predominately in parieto-occipital white matter. Less frequently, lesions first develop in frontal white matter. This matched cohort study examined whether outcomes after standard treatment with hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) differ in patients with early stage frontal lesions as compared to parieto-occipital lesions. Retrospective chart review identified seven pediatric patients with frontal cALD lesions and MRI severity score < 10 who underwent a single HCT at our center between 1990 and 2019. Concurrent MRI, neurocognitive and psychiatric outcomes at last comprehensive follow-up (mean 1.2 years; range 0.5-2.1 years) were compared with a group of seven boys with the parieto-occipital variant matched on pre-HCT MRI severity score. Both groups showed similar rates of transplant complications and radiographic disease advancement. Neurocognitive outcomes were broadly similar, with more frequent working memory deficits among individuals with frontal lesions. Psychiatric problems (hyperactivity, aggression, and atypical behavior) were considerably more common and severe among patients with frontal lesions. Aligned with the critical role of the frontal lobes in emotional and behavioral regulation, functional disruption of self-regulation skills is widely observed among patients with frontal lesions. Comprehensive care for cALD should address needs for psychiatric care and management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1434-1440
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Inherited Metabolic Disease
Issue number6
Early online dateSep 9 2021
StatePublished - Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding Information This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, grants KL2TR002492 and UL1TR002494, and by the University of Minnesota Department of Pediatrics. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Journal of Inherited Metabolic Disease published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of SSIEM.


  • MRI
  • adrenoleukodystrophy
  • cerebral
  • cognition
  • psychiatric
  • stem cell transplantation

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


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