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The association of infantile osteopetrosis and neuronal storage disease in two brothers


Neurological manifestations in infantile osteopetrosis are common and varied, and not always attributable to the skeletal pathology. An unusual association of osteopetrosis with neuronal storage of ceroid lipofuscin is reported in two infant brothers born of nonconsanguinous parents. The first child became symptomatic at age 5 days with weight loss and vomiting. He had poor head control, hypertonia, and persistent fisting, and died at age 2 months. In the second infant, the diagnosis of osteopetrosis was confirmed at age 2 days. His neurological symptoms inlcuded blindness, deafness, and recurrent seizures. The infant died at 7 months of age. In both cases, autopsy confirmed the diffuse bony sclerosis with hepatosplenomegaly and extramedullary hematopoiesis. Neuropathological examination revealed cerebral atrophy with ventricular dilation, neuronal loss, and astrogliosis. The most striking finding was widespread accumultion of neuronal ceroid lipofuscin associated with formation of axonal spheroids. The optic nerves were compressed at the optic foramina and showed loss of myelinated axons and gliosis. Rapid Golgi impregnations of neurons from the calcarine cortex in the second infant were analyzed quantitatively, showing a reduction in the total dendritic length and number of branches. The primary defect in osteopetrosis is thought to be a lysosomal dysfunction involving the monocyte cell line from which osteoclasts are derived. Thus, the association in two brothers of osteopetrosis with accumulation of neuronal ceroid lipofuscin may not be fortuitous. The neuronal storage disorder in this instance probably reflects lysosomal dysfunction.

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Correspondence to L. E. Becker.

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Jagadha, V., Halliday, W.C., Becker, L.E. et al. The association of infantile osteopetrosis and neuronal storage disease in two brothers. Acta Neuropathol 75, 233–240 (1988).

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Key words

  • Osteopetrosis
  • Ceroid lipofuscin