The clinical and electrodiagnostic findings in 49 affected family members and neuropathological findings from two autopsies of a Maryland kindred with autosomal dominant juvenile amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are reported from Johns Hopkins University and Hospital, Baltimore, MD. The ALS was linked to the chromosome 9q34 region (ALS4). The mean age at onset was 17 years, and patients ranged in age from 12 to 85 years (mean 45 years). Clinically, the majority showed distal weakness and atrophy associated with pyramidal signs and normal sensation. Electrodiagnostic testing in 8 patients showed reduced evoked amplitudes and normal motor and sensory conduction. EMG showed distal chronic partial denervation and reinnervation. Spinal cord tissue was atrophic with loss of anterior horn cells, degeneration of corticospinal tracts, loss of neurons in the dorsal root ganglia, and degeneration of the posterior columns. Motor and sensory roots and peripheral nerves showed axonal loss and diffuse prominent swellings. This family extends the genetic heterogeneity of familial and juvenile ALS. [1]

COMMENT. Juvenile ALS is a chronic motor neuron disease with onset before 25 years and characterized by upper and lower motor neuron dysfunction in the absence of sensory abnormalities or ataxia. A family is described with a slowly progressive, non-fatal, autosomal dominant form of juvenile ALS linked to the chromosome 9q34 (ALS4).