X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD) is caused by mutations in the ABCD1 gene, which encodes a peroxisomal ABC half-transporter (ALDP) involved in the import of very long-chain fatty acids (VLCFA) into the peroxisome. The disease is characterized by a striking and unpredictable variation in phenotypic expression. Phenotypes include the rapidly progressive childhood cerebral form (CCALD), the milder adult form, adrenomyeloneuropathy (AMN), and variants without neurologic involvement. There is no apparent correlation between genotype and phenotype. In males, unambiguous diagnosis can be achieved by demonstration of elevated levels of VLCFA in plasma. In 15 to 20% of obligate heterozygotes, however, test results are false - negative. Therefore, mutation analysis is the only reliable method for the identification of heterozygotes. Since most X-ALD kindreds have a unique mutation, a great number of mutations have been identified in the ABCD1 gene in the last seven years. In order to catalog and facilitate the analysis of these mutations, we have established a mutation database for X-ALD (http://www.x-ald.nl). In this review we report a detailed analysis of all 406 X-ALD mutations currently included in the database. Also, we present 47 novel mutations. In addition, we review the various X-ALD phenotypes, the different diagnostic tools, and the need for extended family screening for the identification of new patients.
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