Neuropediatrics 2020; 51(06): 450-452
DOI: 10.1055/s-0040-1715486
Videos and Images in Neuropediatrics

Sandhoff Disease: Improvement of Gait by Acetyl-DL-Leucine: A Case Report

Tatiana Bremova-Ertl
1   Department of Neurology and German Center for Vertigo and Balance Disorders, Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich, Campus Grosshadern, Munich, Germany
2   Department of Neurology, University Hospital of Bern, Bern, BE, Switzerland
Frances Platt
3   Department of Pharmacology, University of Oxford, Oxford, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom
Michael Strupp
1   Department of Neurology and German Center for Vertigo and Balance Disorders, Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich, Campus Grosshadern, Munich, Germany
› Author Affiliations

An 8-year-old boy suffered from genetically proven juvenile-onset GM2-gangliosidosis, Sandhoff disease (in HEXB: c.[758delA] + [763A > C]; p.[E253GfsX2] + [S255R]). Before treatment, he could not even stand unassisted ([Video 1]). As it has been shown that the modified amino acid acetyl-DL-leucine (AL) improves symptoms in a different lysosomal storage disease (LSD), Niemann–Pick disease type C,[1] [2] he was treated with 0.1 g/kg/day as an “individual case of off-label use.” After 6 months of treatment, he was able to walk unassisted (video). There was also an improvement of the Scale for the Assessment and Rating of Ataxia (SARA) from 36 of 40 to 32 of 40 and of the 8-m-walk test from 18.1 seconds “only with strong support” to 13.8 seconds “without support.” AL was well tolerated. When it was transiently discontinued, within 2 weeks his condition was the same as before treatment. Since this always happened, he is still on AL, as he has been since 2017 (additional medications: lacosamide, pregabalin, and miglustat).

Video 1 Before treatment, this 8-year-old boy with Sandhoff's disease could not stand or walk unaided (“baseline”). Six months after initiation of treatment with acetyl-DL-leucine (0.1 g/kg per day), he was able to walk on his own, even across a soccer field (“on medication”).


The acute effects might be explained by one mode of action of AL; it normalizes membrane potential[3] and may thereby “revitalize” neuronal networks. Based on our clinical findings, back-translational research was performed in an animal model of Sandhoff's disease (Hexb −/−): AL, in the same oral dosage/kg/day, led to an improvement of motor function, a significant increase in life span, and reduced glycosphingolipid storage in the forebrain and cerebellum. AL also normalized altered glucose and glutamate metabolism and increased autophagy and superoxide dismutase.[4] These preclinical studies support our clinical findings and elucidate the multiple modes of action of AL in LSD ([Video 1]).

Publication History

Received: 02 April 2020

Accepted: 19 April 2020

Article published online:
06 September 2020

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  • References

  • 1 Bremova T, Malinová V, Amraoui Y. et al. Acetyl-dl-leucine in Niemann-Pick type C: a case series. Neurology 2015; 85 (16) 1368-1375
  • 2 Cortina-Borja M, Te Vruchte D, Mengel E. et al. Annual severity increment score as a tool for stratifying patients with Niemann-Pick disease type C and for recruitment to clinical trials. Orphanet J Rare Dis 2018; 13 (01) 143
  • 3 Vibert N, Vidal PP. In vitro effects of acetyl-DL-leucine (tanganil) on central vestibular neurons and vestibulo-ocular networks of the guinea-pig. Eur J Neurosci 2001; 13 (04) 735-748
  • 4 Kaya E, Smith DA, Smith C, Boland B, Strupp M, Platt FM. Beneficial effects of Acetyl-DL-Leucine (ADLL) in a mouse model of Sandhoff disease. J Clin Med 2020; 9 (04) E1050 , In press