Evolution of Adrenoleukodystrophy Model Systems

Roberto Montoro, Vivi M Heine, Stephan Kemp, Marc Engelen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) is a neurometabolic disorder affecting the adrenal glands, testes, spinal cord and brain. The disease is caused by mutations in the ABCD1 gene resulting in a defect in peroxisomal degradation of very long-chain fatty acids and their accumulation in plasma and tissues. Males with ALD have a near 100% life-time risk to develop myelopathy. The life-time prevalence to develop progressive cerebral white matter lesions (known as cerebral ALD) is about 60%. Adrenal insufficiency occurs in about 80% of male patients. In adulthood, 80% of women with ALD also develop myelopathy, but adrenal insufficiency or cerebral ALD are very rare. The complex clinical presentation and the absence of a genotype-phenotype correlation are complicating our understanding of the disease. In an attempt to understand the pathophysiology of ALD various model systems have been developed. While these model systems share the basic genetics and biochemistry of ALD they fail to fully recapitulate the complex neurodegenerative etiology of ALD. Each model system recapitulates certain aspects of the disorder. This exposes the complexity of ALD and therefore the challenge to create a comprehensive model system to fully understand ALD. In this review, we provide an overview of the different ALD modeling strategies from single-celled to multicellular organisms and from in vitro to in vivo approaches, and introduce how emerging iPSC-derived technologies could improve the understanding of this highly complex disorder.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)544-553
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Inherited Metabolic Disease
Issue number3
Early online date29 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - May 2021

Cite this