Sjögren-Larsson syndrome: The mild end of the phenotypic spectrum

Pippa Staps*, Judith van Gaalen, Peter van Domburg, Peter M Steijlen, Sacha Ferdinandusse, Tom den Heijer, Marieke M B Seyger, Thomas Theelen, Michèl A A P Willemsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Sjögren-Larsson syndrome (SLS) is a rare inborn error of lipid metabolism. The syndrome is caused by mutations in the ALDH3A2 gene, resulting in a deficiency of fatty aldehyde dehydrogenase. Most patients have a clearly recognizable severe phenotype, with congenital ichthyosis, intellectual disability, and spastic diplegia. In this study, we describe two patients with a remarkably mild phenotype. In both patients, males with actual ages of 45 and 61 years, the diagnosis was only established at an adult age. Their skin had been moderately affected from childhood onward, and both men remained ambulant with mild spasticity of their legs. Cognitive development, as reflected by school performance and professional career, had been unremarkable. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy of the first patient was lacking the characteristic lipid peak. We performed a literature search to identify additional SLS patients with a mild phenotype. We compared the clinical, radiologic, and molecular features of the mildly affected patients with the classical phenotype. We found 10 cases in the literature with a molecular proven diagnosis and a mild phenotype. Neither a genotype-phenotype correlation nor an alternative explanation for the strikingly mild phenotypes was found. New biochemical techniques to study the underlying metabolic defect in SLS, like lipidomics, may in the future help to unravel the reasons for the exceptionally mild phenotypes. In the meantime, it is important to recognize these mildly affected patients to provide them with appropriate care and genetic counseling, and to increase our insights in the true disease spectrum of SLS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-70
Number of pages10
JournalJIMD reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2020

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