BACKGROUND: Cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leuco-encephalopathy (CADASIL) is a hereditary autosomal dominant non-atherosclerotic nonamyloid cerebral arteriopathy. The disease was identified in 1993. We are not aware of reports in the literature of its occurrence in South Africa, and we present the clinical and laboratory features of 5 patients with CADASIL.
METHODS: Patients with the characteristic radiological white matter disease and typical features (family history, ischaemic events, migraine or dementia) were evaluated for possible CADASIL by means of clinical examination, routine investigations for strokes, magnetic resonance imaging, skin biopsy electron microscopy, evoked potentials and electroencephalography.
RESULTS: The clinical and laboratory features of our study largely correlate with reported studies. However, all of the skin biopsies were positive, and the onset of migraine in our patients was considerably earlier. A new finding, to our knowledge, was the normality of visual, somatosensory and auditory evoked potentials.
CONCLUSION: Our study confirms the existence of CADASIL in South Africa, and also suggests that skin electron microscopy is useful, despite recent reports of its low sensitivity, and that evoked potentials in CADASIL are likely to be normal.