Clinical and molecular findings in the first identified Italian family with dentatorubral-pallidoluysian atrophy

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Dentatorubral-pallidoluysian atrophy (DRPLA) is a rare autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disorder mostly observed in Japan, rarely reported in American and North European populations. The aim of this study is to characterize the clinical and molecular features of the first identified Italian DRPLA family.

Patients and methods

We describe a 33-year-old female presenting with ataxia, intellectual decline, epilepsy, and choreoathetosis with an adult age onset. Genomic DNA was isolated from peripheral blood lymphocytes of the patient and of her healthy family members following standard procedures. Molecular tests were performed including genetic analysis for SCA1, 2, and 3 (spinocerebellar ataxias), Huntington's disease (HD) and DRPLA, due to a possible overlapping in clinical presentation.


Molecular analysis revealed in our patient the presence of a pathological CAG expansion within the DRPLA gene. We have also documented the presence of a smaller CAG expansion in her apparently healthy brother, excluding the possibility of a de novo mutation.


We conclude that both siblings may have inherited the molecular lesion from their deceased father, the mother being normal at molecular evaluation. Our kindred and a previously reported family from the island of Malta suggest that hereditary DRPLA may also be present in the Mediterranean area.

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