Advances in the diagnosis of leukoencephalopathies

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Introduction : Leukoencephalopathies (LEs) are a diverse group of diseases involving cerebral white matter. Some of the disorders may be infectious or immunologically mediated and, therefore, tend to be more amenable to treatment. Most of these disorders have a genetic basis, for which genetic counseling becomes important as currently very few of them have effective therapies. Areas covered : This review calls attention to the diagnostic dilemmas, highlights the diagnostic tests of choice for separating conditions with similar clinical, laboratory or neuroimaging findings, and describes several LEs that have been newly discovered within the last 20 years. Imaging of LEs has progressed rapidly since the introduction of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and spectroscopy (MRS), allowing recognition of new diseases, with and without identifiable corresponding biochemical or genetic defects. The distinguishing MRI and MRS features of LEs are described, as well as the resources available for biochemical, CSF and blood sample testing for diagnosis and differentiation from previously known LEs. Expert opinion : Although there is no treatment at present for many of the LEs, their detection as a cause of intellectual and motor disabilities, and as inherited disorders, makes it necessary to accurately categorize them. This knowledge will then allow further elucidation of the etiology, understanding the biological underpinnings, and eventually progress toward rational therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-273
Number of pages15
JournalExpert Opinion on Medical Diagnostics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2012


  • Biochemical defects
  • Genetic defects
  • Leukoencephalopathies
  • MRI
  • Neurological examination
  • Pathology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Biochemistry, medical

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