SQSTM1 gene as a potential genetic modifier of CADASIL phenotype.

Cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy (CADASIL) is the most common inherited cerebral small vessel disease and is caused by mutations in the NOTCH3 gene. Interestingly, CADASIL patients present a large phenotypic variability even harboring the same pathogenic variant. We describe two CADASIL siblings with a particularly aggressive clinical phenotype characterized by early-onset stroke, gait disturbances and/or dementia, severe emotional dysregulation, and dysexecutive syndrome together with a severe white matter burden on MRI. The genetic analysis revealed the co-occurrence of NOTCH3 (p.Gly420Cys) and SQSTM1 (p.Ser275Phefs*17) pathogenic variants which might worsen the aggressiveness of disease progression in both siblings. Interestingly, to the best of our knowledge, mutations in SQSTM1 gene have never been described in CADASIL patients before. Curiously, both Notch3 and p62 encoded proteins have a key role in the autophagy-lysosomal pathway which is impaired in CADASIL patients. Thus, the contribution of SQSTM1 gene to the clinical heterogeneity of CADASIL patients, in particular for those who develop cognitive impairment or dementia at an early age, is certainly overlooked. Therefore, we advocate expanding the genetic analysis to other genes associated with the phenotype spectrum of CADASIL patients using NGS-customized gene panel.

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