J Neurodev Disord 2015 13;7(1):20. Epub 2015 Jul 13.
Department of Neurology, Oulu University Hospital, P.O. Box 20, 90029 Oulu, Finland ; Department of Clinical Medicine, Neurology, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 5000, 90014 Oulu, Finland.
Background: Salla disease (SD) is a rare lysosomal storage disorder leading to severe intellectual disability. SD belongs to the Finnish disease heritage, and it is caused by mutations in the SLC17A5 gene. The aim of the study was to investigate the course of neurocognitive features of SD patients in a long-term follow-up.
Methods: Neuropsychological and neurological investigations were carried out on 24 SD patients, aged 16-65 years, 13 years after a similar examination.
Results: The survival analysis showed excess mortality among patients with SD after the age of 30 years. The course of the disease was progressive, but follow-up of SD patients revealed that motor skills improved till the age of 20 years, while mental abilities improved in most patients till 40 years of age. Verbal comprehension skills did not diminish during the follow-up, but productive speech deteriorated because of dyspraxia and dysarthria. Motor deficits were marked. Ataxia was prominent in childhood, but it was replaced by athetotic movements during the teens. Spasticity became more obvious with age especially in severely disabled SD patients.
Conclusions: Younger SD patients performed better in almost every task measuring mental abilities that then seem to remain fairly constant till early sixties. Thus, the results indicate better prognosis in cognitive skills than earlier assumed. There is an apparent decline in motor skills after the age of 20 years. The early neurocognitive development predicts the later course of motor and cognitive development.