Presymptomatic Lesion in Childhood Cerebral Adrenoleukodystrophy: Timing and Treatment

Background and Objectives

We sought to characterize the natural history and standard-of-care practices between the radiologic appearance of brain lesions, the appearance of lesional enhancement, and treatment with hematopoietic stem-cell transplant or gene therapy among boys diagnosed with presymptomatic childhood-onset cerebral adrenoleukodystrophy (CCALD).

Methods

We analyzed a multicenter, mixed retrospective/prospective cohort of patients diagnosed with presymptomatic CCALD (Neurologic Function Score = 0, Loes Score [LS] = 0.5–9.0, and age <13 years). Two time-to-event survival analyses were conducted: (1) time from CCALD lesion onset-to-lesional enhancement and (2) time from enhancement-to-treatment. The analysis was repeated in the subset of patients with (1) the earliest evidence of CCALD, defined as an MRI LS ≤ 1, and (2) patients diagnosed between 2016 and 2021.

Results

Seventy-one boys were diagnosed with presymptomatic cerebral lesions at a median age of 6.4 years [2.4–12.1] with a LS of 1.5 [0.5–9.0]. Fifty percent of patients had lesional enhancement at diagnosis. In the remaining 50%, the median Kaplan-Meier (KM)-estimate of time from diagnosis-to-lesional enhancement was 6.0 months (95% CI 3.6–17.8). The median KM-estimate of time from enhancement-to-treatment is 3.8 months (95% CI 2.8–5.9); 2 patients (4.2%) developed symptoms before treatment. Patients with a diagnostic LS ≤ 1 were younger (5.8 years [2.4–11.5]), had a time-to-enhancement of 4.7 months (95% CI 2.7–9.30), and were treated in 3.8 months (95% CI 3.1–7.1); no patients developed symptoms before treatment. Time from CCALD diagnosis-to-treatment decreased over the course of the study ( = –0.401, p = 0.003).

Discussion

Our findings offer a more refined understanding of the timing of lesion formation, enhancement, and treatment among boys with presymptomatic CCALD. These data offer benchmarks for standardizing clinical care and designing future clinical trials.

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