COL4A1 brain small-vessel disease
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COL4A1 brain small-vessel disease is an autosomal dominant monogenic COL4A1-related disorder that primarily causes cerebral small vessel disease.
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The exact prevalence is unknown, but the condition is likely under-diagnosed.
The clinical presentation is varied but generally presents during adulthood (30-50 years of age) with CNS features, including 1-4:
hemorrhagic stroke: generally subcortical in location, involving the centrum semiovale, deep grey matter, or brainstem
ischemic stroke: generally lacunar infarcts
migraine with aura
Notably, dementia is not a feature of COL4A1 brain small-vessel disease 1. Furthermore, multi-organ involvement (including features of other COL4A1-related disorders) has also been rarely reported in patients with COL4A1 brain small-vessel disease, including cataracts, retinal hemorrhages, Axenfeld-Rieger anomaly, nephropathy, muscle cramps, mitral valve prolapse, arrhythmias, and Raynaud phenomenon 1-4.
COL4A1 brain small-vessel disease is an autosomal dominant condition resulting from a mutation to the COL4A1 gene, located on the long arm of chromosome 13, that normally encodes for the alpha-1 chain of type IV collagen 1-6. Type IV collagen is an important component of basement membranes in many tissues, especially blood vessels 1-6.
A similar syndrome is seen in patients with mutation to the COL4A2 gene 3.
Histological analysis of affected blood vessels reveals interruption and thickening of basement membrane 1.
CT is non-specific, demonstrating white matter regions of low attenuation 1-4.
MRI is the investigation of choice and demonstrates the following features:
widespread confluent, bilateral, symmetric white matter hyperintensities on T2-weighted sequences, with relative sparing of subcortical U-fibers 1-4
dilated perivascular spaces 1-4
cerebral microhemorrhages, predominantly involving the centrum semiovale, deep grey matter, or brainstem 1-4
intracerebral hemorrhage in the same distribution as cerebral microhemorrhages 1-4
ischemic stroke, most commonly lacunar infarcts 1-4
porencephalic cysts, often unilateral 1-4
Angiographic studies may demonstrate the presence of intracranial cerebral aneurysms, most commonly affecting the intracranial internal carotid artery or middle cerebral artery 1-4.
Treatment and prognosis
No specific disease-modifying treatment is currently available and symptomatic management and specialist screening is recommended 2.
General imaging differential considerations include:
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- 5. Joutel A, Faraci FM. Cerebral small vessel disease: insights and opportunities from mouse models of collagen IV-related small vessel disease and cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy. Stroke. 45 (4): 1215-21. doi:10.1161/STROKEAHA.113.002878 - Pubmed
- 6. Gould DB, Phalan FC, van Mil SE, Sundberg JP, Vahedi K, Massin P, Bousser MG, Heutink P, Miner JH, Tournier-Lasserve E, John SW. Role of COL4A1 in small-vessel disease and hemorrhagic stroke. The New England journal of medicine. 354 (14): 1489-96. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa053727 - Pubmed