X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy in a chimpanzee due to an ABCD1 mutation reported in multiple unrelated humans

Julian Curiel, Steven J Steinberg, Sarah Bright, Ann Snowden, Ann B. Moser, Florian Eichler, Holly A. Dubbs, Joseph G. Hacia, John J. Ely, Jocelyn Bezner, Alisa Gean, Adeline Vanderver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD) is a genetic disorder leading to the accumulation of very long chain fatty acids (VLCFA) due to a mutation in the ABCD1 gene. ABCD1 mutations lead to a variety of phenotypes, including cerebral X-ALD and adrenomyeloneuropathy (AMN) in affected males and 80% of carrier females. There is no definite genotype-phenotype correlation with intrafamilial variability. Cerebral X-ALD typically presents in childhood, but can also present in juveniles and adults. The most affected tissues are the white matter of the brain and adrenal cortex. MRI demonstrates a characteristic imaging appearance in cerebral X-ALD that is used as a diagnostic tool. Objectives We aim to correlate a mutation in the ABCD1 gene in a chimpanzee to the human disease X-ALD based on MRI features, neurologic symptoms, and plasma levels of VLCFA. Methods Diagnosis of X-ALD made using MRI, blood lipid profiling, and DNA sequencing. Results An 11-year-old chimpanzee showed remarkably similar features to juvenile onset cerebral X-ALD in humans including demyelination of frontal lobes and corpus callosum on MRI, elevated plasma levels of C24:0 and C26:0, and identification of the c.1661G > A ABCD1 variant. Conclusions This case study presents the first reported case of a leukodystrophy in a great ape, and underscores the fidelity of MRI pattern recognition in this disorder across species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-133
Number of pages4
JournalMolecular Genetics and Metabolism
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Endocrinology

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