Progressive Ataxia with Elevated Alpha-Fetoprotein: Diagnostic Issues and Review of the Literature

Paucar, Martin; Taylor, Alexander M.R.; Hadjivassiliou, Marios; Fogel, Brent L.; Svenningsson, Per

Background: Ataxias represent a challenging group of disorders due to significant clinical overlap. Here, we present a patient with early-onset progressive ataxia, polyneuropathy and discuss how elevation of alpha fetoprotein (AFP) narrows the differential diagnosis.

Case report: Ataxia, polyneuropathy, and mild elevation of AFP are features compatible with ataxia with oculomotor apraxia type 2 (AOA2) but also with ataxia with oculomotor apraxia type 4 (AOA4). A genetic analysis demonstrated biallelic mutations in senataxin (SETX), confirming the diagnosis of AOA2.

Discussion: Mild elevation of AFP is found in patients with AOA2 and AOA4, and higher levels are commonly seen in ataxia-telangiectasia. AFP is a useful diagnostic tool but not a biomarker for disease progression in AOA2.


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Tremor and Other Hyperkinetic Movements

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Academic Units
Center for Parkinson's Disease and Other Movement Disorders
Published Here
January 15, 2020