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Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), also called Siemerling-Creutzfeldt Disease or Schilder's disease[1]:545) is a rare, inherited disorder that leads to progressive brain damage, failure of the adrenal glands and eventually death. ALD is a disease in a group of genetic disorders called leukodystrophies. Adrenoleukodystrophy progressively damages the myelin sheath, a complex fatty neural tissue that insulates many nerves of the central and peripheral nervous systems. Without functional myelin, nerves are unable to conduct an impulse, which leads to increasing disability.

Patients with X-linked ALD have defects in the ATP-binding cassette, sub-family D (ALD), member 1 transporter protein, which is encoded by the ABCD1 gene. The ABCD1 (aka ALDP) protein is indirectly involved in the break down of very long-chain fatty acids (VLCFAs) found in the normal diet. Lack of this protein can give rise to an over-accumulation of VLCFAs which can lead to damage to the brain, adrenal gland, and peripheral nervous system.

There are several different types of the disease which can be inherited, but the most common form is an X-linked condition. X-linked ALD primarily affects males, but about one in five women with the disease gene develop some symptoms. Adrenomyeloneuropathy is a less-severe form of ALD, with onset of symptoms occurring in adolescence or adulthood. This form does not include cerebral involvement, and should be included in the differential diagnosis of all males with adrenal insufficiency. Although they share a similar name, X-linked ALD and neonatal adrenoleukodystrophy (NALD), a peroxisome biogenesis disorder, are completely different diseases.

Although this disorder affects the growth and/or development of myelin, leukodystrophies are different from demyelinating disorders such as multiple sclerosis where myelin is formed normally but is lost by immunologic dysfunction or for other reasons.


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