Peroxisome Biogenesis Disorder 1B (neonatal adrenoleukodystrophy)

Clinical Characteristics
Ocular Features: 

This peroxisomal disorder presents in the first year of life with both systemic and ocular features.  Night blindness is the major ocular feature and at least some have optic atrophy similar to the adult form.  Central acuity is reduced secondary to macular degeneration.  A pigmentary retinopathy is frequently present and often follows the appearance of whitish retinal flecks in the midperipheray.  Nystagmus and cataracts are common features.  Reduction or absence of ERG responses can be used in young children to document the retinopathy.  Blindness and deafness commonly occur in childhood.

Systemic Features: 

This disorder is classified as a leukodystrophy, or disease of white matter of the brain, associated with the breakdown of phytanic acid.  Ataxia and features of motor neuron disease are evident early.  Hepatomegaly and jaundice may also be early diagnostic features as bile acid metabolism is defective.  Infant hypotonia is often seen.  Nonspecific facial dysmorphism has been reported.  The ears are low-set and epicanthal folds are present.  The teeth are abnormally large and often have yellowish discoloration.  Postural unsteadiness is evident when patients begin walking.  Diagnosis can be suspected from elevated serum phytanic and pipecolic acid (in 20% of patients) or by demonstration of decreased phytanic acid oxidation in cultured fibroblasts.  Other biochemical abnormalities such as hypocholesterolemia, and elevated very long chain fatty acids and trihydroxycholestanoic acid are usually present.  Anosmia, developmental delays, and mental retardation are nearly universal features.  Early mortality in infancy or childhood is common.


This is a genetically heterogeneous disorder of peroxisome biogenesis caused by mutations in at least three genes, PEX1 (7q21-q22), PEX2 (8q21.1), and PEX6 (22q11-21).  Each is inherited in an autosomal recessive pattern.  The mechanism of disease is different from the classic or adult Refsum disorder (266500) and some have debated whether the term ‘infantile Refsum disease’ is appropriate.

This disorder shares some clinical features with other peroxisomal disorders such as Zellweger syndrome (214100) and rhizomelic chondrodysplasia punctata (215100).  Zellweger syndrome (214100), neonatal adrenoleukodystrophy and infantile Refsum disease (601539) are now considered to be peroxisomal biogenesis or Zellweger spectrum disorders.

Treatment Options: 

No effective treatment is known.

Article Title: 


Goez H, Meiron D, Horowitz J, Schutgens RH, Wanders RJ, Berant M, Mandel H. Infantile Refsum disease: neonatal cholestatic jaundice presentation of a peroxisomal disorder. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 1995 Jan;20(1):98-101.

PubMedID: 7533834

Wanders RJ, Saelman D, Heymans HS, Schutgens RB, Westerveld A, Poll-Th?(c) BT, Saudubray JM, Van den Bosch H, Strijland A, Schram AW, et al. Genetic relation between the Zellweger syndrome, infantile Refsum's disease, and rhizomelic chondrodysplasia punctata. N Engl J Med. 1986 Mar 20;314(12):787-8.

PubMedID: 2419755