The first signs of the diseases in the neuroacanthocytosis (NA)
group are subtle and easily overlooked. Initial symptoms, which
often occur in the person’s mid 20’s, may include
grunts or tic noises made unconsciously in the throat, progressing
to drooling and problems in controlling the tongue from ejecting
food. Involuntary biting of the tongue, lips and/or cheeks may
At the beginning there can be a general, slight physical
awkwardness. Things on a shelf are knocked off for no apparent
reason. Difficulty with walking and balance can also be early
symptoms. Problems controlling trunk, leg and arm movements are
often barely noticeable at the beginning, but become increasingly
difficult as the disease progresses. Several patients find it
difficult to sleep at night and others report fatigue and weakness.
Personality change may also be an early indication. The carefree
young adult becomes obsessive-compulsive and uncharacteristically
forgetful or just loses confidence or drive. Fainting or epileptic
seizures may also occur. Mood changes may happen and a person often
becomes isolated, in part out of embarrassment.
There are several reports of the problems beginning after a
traumatic event including physical attack, unexpected failure of an
exam and birth of a child.
A defining symptom that is not apparent is the spiky red blood
cells, or acanthocytes, from which the NA disease group takes its
name. These unusual blood cells can be observed with a microscope
in some circumstances. Still more difficult to observe are the
alterations or mutations in patients’ genes. Each of the NA
group diseases has a different genetic characteristic that can be
determined only by blood tests.
A person showing some of this pattern of symptoms should see a
neurologist. Clinicians and patients can also visit www.naadvocacy.org
for links to further scientific reports. Full details are also
available on the free blood testing service offered by the Advocacy
for Neuroacanthocytosis Patients, aimed at helping determine a
definitive diagnosis for NA.
:: Useful NA
Neuroacanthocytosis Syndromes II, published December
2007, the book provides a profound insight into recent
developments within the field of neuroacanthocytosis syndromes.
Edited by Ruth H. Walker, Shinji Saiki and Adrian Danek.
Available at amazon.com
A Western blot test for the presence of chorein in the
membranes of red blood cells can be offered free of charge due to
support of the Advocacy for Neuroacanthocytosis Patients'.
Download instructions on the blood sampling and specimen shipment
as a PDF
or get more information on the method at PubMed
The entry for chorea acanthocytosis in GeneReviews
is the most complete, readily available report on ChAc. Published
by the University of Washington with the support of the National
Institutes of Health
A dedicated Patient & Families Support Group at Yahoo
Groups offers patients and families information, advice,
support or just an understanding ear
Visit PubMed for access to NA
research in English from the Medline database.
Visit the NA page on WeMove,
the Movement Disorder Societies charitable and educational
naadvocacy.org is the website of the The Institute
for Neuroacanthocytosis. It is the Advocacy's international
centre for supporting patients and promoting clinical and basic
research. The website provides access to resources found on
Projects receive new NA funding This October two new grants were made in the ongoing quest to understand the causes of NA:
Pauline Williford, the mother of a McLeod’s syndrome patient, Mark Williford in the United States made a grant of $25,000 to the Harvard Medical School to support Alicia Rivera, PhD to study the role of XK protein in erythrocyte ion transport function. The Kell/XK complex plays a role in erythrocyte ion and water homeostasis by regulating Mg++ and K+ transport via a calcium-dependent mechanism. The proposal builds on data obtained from erythrocytes of XK and Kell knockout mice that demonstrate mild changes in ion content and transport. Soohee Lee PhD -- who has long been associated with the NA movement and delivered papers on the XK protein at four symposia organised by the Advocacy -- will participate in these studies and may provide insight into the pathophysiology of McLeod syndrome erythrocytes. The grant is the inspiration of Rev. Joy Willard-Williford who with husband Mark, an MLS patient, attended the 2010 symposium in Bethesda sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.
The Advocacy made a two year grant of €15,000 to Dr. Benedikt Bader and the Clinic of the University of Munich, to continue Dr. Bader’s contribution to the study and registering of the clinical manifestations of the neuroacanthocytosis diseases. This will assure Dr. Bader’s invaluable participation in the free diagnostic testing and registry of patients while he completes his qualification in neurology.