Metachromatic leukodystrophy genotypes in The Netherlands reveal novel pathogenic ARSA variants in non-Caucasian patients

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Metachromatic leukodystrophy (MLD) is an autosomal recessively inherited sulfatide storage disease caused by deficient activity of the lysosomal enzyme arylsulfatase A (ASA). Genetic analysis of the ARSA gene is important in MLD diagnosis and screening of family members. In addition, more information on genotype prevalence will help interpreting MLD population differences between countries. In this study, we identified 31 different ARSA variants in the patient cohort (n = 67) of the Dutch expertise center for MLD. The most frequently found variant, c.1283C > T, p.(Pro428Leu), was present in 43 (64%) patients and resulted in a high prevalence of the juvenile MLD type (58%) in The Netherlands. Furthermore, we observed in five out of six patients with a non-Caucasian ethnic background previously unreported pathogenic ARSA variants. In total, we report ten novel variants including four missense, two nonsense, and two frameshift variants and one in-frame indel, which were all predicted to be disease causing in silico. In addition, one silent variant was found, c.1200C > T, that most likely resulted in erroneous exonic splicing, including partial skipping of exon 7. The c.1200C > T variant was inherited in cis with the pseudodeficiency allele c.1055A > G, p.(Asn352Ser) + ∗96A > G. With this study we provide a genetic base of the unique MLD phenotype distribution in The Netherlands. In addition, our study demonstrated the importance of genetic analysis in MLD diagnosis and the increased likelihood of unreported, pathogenic ARSA variants in patients with non-Caucasian ethnic backgrounds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-299
Number of pages11
Issue number4
Early online date7 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020


  • ARSA gene
  • Arylsulfatase A
  • Genetic association studies
  • Metachromatic leukodystrophy

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