Patient EducationAug | 20 | 2016
Adrenoleukodystrophy is a genetic disorder that affects the nervous system, adrenal glands (small glands on top of the kidneys) and testes. It causes chemicals called very long chain fatty acids to build up in the body. These fatty acids damage the adrenal glands and myelin sheaths (the protective covering of nerves).
Adrenoleukodystrophy mostly affects males. However, in rare cases, it can also affect females. A person with this disorder can show symptoms anytime between childhood and around age 50.
Adrenoleukodystrophy is caused by a mutation (change) in the ABCD1 gene.
There are 3 main types of adrenoleukodystrophy. In the mildest form, patients have adrenal damage starting in the childhood or teenage years. Nerve involvement may occur in later life.
In the intermediate form, neurological and behavioral symptoms start in early adulthood and middle age; many have adrenal damage.
In the most severe (cerebral) form, children develop learning and behavioral problems between 4-10 years. Over time they may have difficulty reading, writing, understanding speech and written material and adrenal gland damage.