We have compiled a list of words that you may encounter when reading information on Leukodystrophy. Please let us know if there are any words that you would like us to add.
One member of a pair of genes that occupy a specific position on a specific chromosome.
Loss of the sense of smell.
disease of the arteries.
the gene responsible for Canavan disease. It is involved in the breakdown of a molecule called NAA, a molecule that is thought to be involved in the removal of water from certain types of brain cells, as well as in the formation of myelin lipids.
a type of glial cell that provides physical and nutritional support for neurons. Their primary functions include cleaning up brain “debris,” transporting nutrients to neurons, and holding neurons in place
disturbance of gait or coordination
all of the chromsomes that are not the sex chromosomes
a physical projection of the neuron cell body that is responsible for carrying signals away from the neuron.
clouding over the lens of the eye, impairs normal vision
Central nervous system: consists of the brain and the spinal cord. It controls thought processes, guides movement, and registers sensations throughout the body.
axia is wobbliness. Cerebellar ataxia refers to the fact that the defect is in a specific part of the brain (the cerebellum), and the incoordination and unsteadiness is due to the brain’s failure to regulate the body’s posture, as well as the strength and direction of the body’s movements.
a linear strand of DNA that contains many genes; there are 46 human chromosomes (22 pairs of chromsomes, and the X and Y chromosomes).
refers to an abnormality of the face and/or the head. Craniofacial dysmorphism can include abnormal growth patterns of the face or skull, and may involve the soft tissue as well as the bones. In the case of 18q-syndrome, craniofacial abnormalities will most likely include deep-set eyes, a “carp-shaped” mouth, microcephaly (small head), prominent ears, and midfacial hypoplasia (underdeveloped midfacial regions).
a physical projection of the neuron cell body that is responsible for carrying signals to the neuron.
a method of genetic inheritance, whereby a single abnormal copy of a gene causes disease, even though a good copy of the gene is also present.
neurological disorder characterized by involuntary muscle contractions; can affect any part of the body
The epiphysus is the growth area at the end of a bone, while dysplasia means abnormal formation. This means that patients with Refsum disease often have shortened limbs.
a fold of skin that comes in across the inner angle of the eye, common in children with birth defects such as Down syndrome
Failure to thrive
A general term meaning the child is not growing and gaining weight at the expected rate;
see Fluorescent in situ Hybridization
Fluorescent in situ Hybridization (FISH)
a method of visualizing chromosomes that can allow scientists to look for gross chromosomal abnormalities
the baby’s “soft spot”
Also called GALC, this is the protein responsible for
incomplete development of the genitals
An eye condition in which the fluid pressure inside the eyes is high, may damage the eye, leading to vision loss
a specialized type of cell that is a “helper” to neurons, and is necessary for the proper function of the nervous system. There are several types of glial cells, including astrocytes, microglia, oligodendroglia, satellite cells, and Schwann cells (see the individual defintions of these subtypes of glial cells for more information)
a specific type of cell (called the macrophage) accumulates high levels of undegraded galactolipids as a result of the lack of GALC activity in globoid cell leukodystrophy. These cells look different from healthy cells, and are termed globoid cells.
granular osmiophilic material
Also called GOM, it is a granular material that accumulates in patients with CADASIL disease.
Literally means “water on the brain.” Characterized by the accumulation of fluid in the brain or between the brain and the skull. Can cause pressure on the brain, resulting in developmental defects. Also can lead to an abnormally large head size (to greater than 90% of normal).
Hyperextension of the limbs
limbs are kept abnormally straight
Poor muscle tone
Icthyosis is a noninflammatory scaliness of the skin. These symptoms can range anywhere from scaliness of the palms and soles of the feet to scaliness on the trunk of the body.
areas of tissue that have undergone a type of cell death called necrosis, as a result of restricted blood supply.
resulting from low oxygen in the blood or tissues, generally as a result of an obstruction of the arterial blood flow.
The word leukodystrophy comes from the Greek words leuko (meaning white), trophy (meaning growth), and dys (meaning ill). If you put these words together, the word leukodystrophy describes a set of diseases that affect the growth or maintenance of the white matter (myelin).
a type of change associated with the white matter, which includes localized areas of cell death.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
An imaging technique that can be used to visualize any/all parts of the body. The scan is painless and does not involve radiation.
See Myelin basic Protein
abnormally large brain; this can lead to delayed development, convulsive disorders, corticospinal (brain cortex and spinal cord) dysfunction, and seizures. Also called Megalencephaly.
abnormally large brain; this can lead to delayed development, convulsive disorders, corticospinal (brain cortex and spinal cord) dysfunction, and seizures. Also called Macroencephaly.
a type of glial cell that is involved in the digestion of dead neurons.
Migraine with aura
a migraine is a vascular headache resulting from changes in the sizes of the arteries in the brain. An aura refers to an abnormal sensation that the migraine is going to occur.
Muscles tend to be kept flexed
Myelin, sometimes referred to as “white matter” because of its white, fatty appearance, protects and insulates the axons. It consists of a protective sheath of many different molecules that include both lipids (fatty molecules) and proteins. This protective sheath acts in a manner very similar to that of the protective insulation that surrounds an electric wire; that is, it is necessary for the rapid transmission of electrical signals between neurons. It does this primarily by containing the electrical molecules (called ions) within the axon so that they are properly transmitted to the next neuron.
Myelin Basic Protein (MBP)
the gene thought to be responsble for 18q-Syndrome, or at least for the leukodystrophy aspects of the syndrome.
Also called NAA., this molecule is involved in the removal of water from certain types of brain cells, as well as in the formation of myelin lipids. It is involved in the pathology of Canavan Disease.
also called a “nerve cell,” the neurons are responsible for transmitting messages throughout the body. They are important in both involuntary functions (like your heartbeat) and voluntary functions (like walking).
the gene responsible for CADASIL disease, which is involved in determining cell fate
rapid rhythmic repetitious involuntary eye movements
The occiput is the bone forming the back of the skull, and encloses the hole where the spinal cord reaches the brain
a type of glial cell that provides the insulation (myelin) to neurons in the central nervous system.
the bony ridge beneath the eyebrow
Peripheral nervous system
consists of the neurons throughout the body with the exception of those in the CNS. These include the sensory neurons, which detect any sensory stimuli and alert the CNS of their presence, and motor neurons, which connect the CNS to the muscles and carry out instructions from the CNS for movement.
a membrane-bound compartment in the cell that is responsible for the breakdown of certain types of fatty acids
is the term for dysfunction of the nerves outside of the spinal cord. Symptoms may include numbness, weakness, burning pain, and loss of reflexes.
complete paralysis of the body from the neck down
A mode of genetic inheritance whereby an affected person must have two dysfunctional forms of the gene to have the disease. Practically, this means that two parents could
a disease of the eye, resulting from degeneration of a part of the eye called the retina. It affects night vision and peripheral vision, and eventually can lead to blindness.
abnormal, fibrous deposits present in the CNS that are characteristic of Alexander Disease
a type of glial cell that provides physical support to the neurons.
a type of glial cell that provides the insulation (myelin) to neurons in the peripheral nervous system.
The brain controls how the body moves by sending electrical signals. Seizures (also called convulsions) occur when the normal signals from the brain are changed. Severity of a seizure can vary dramatically. Some people may only shake slightly and do not lose consciousness. Other people may become unconscious and have violent shaking of the entire body.
tendency to have involuntary muscle contractions
relating to the portion of the brain immediately below the cerebral cortex, which is the part of the brain responsible for most higher functions (sensation, voluntary muscle movement, thought, reasoning, memory, etc.)
A mode of genetic inheritance where the gene responsible for the disease is located on the X chromosome. Practically, this means that men are more likely to have the disease than women. Please see our fact sheet on genetic inheritance for more information.