Overview of leukodystrophies

Lorenzo's Oil

Leukodystrophies are progressive, hereditary disorders that affect the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves. Specific leukodystrophies include:

  • Metachromatic leukodystrophy
  • Krabbe disease
  • Adrenoleukodystrophy
  • Canavan disease
  • Alexander disease
  • Zellweger syndrome
  • Refsum disease
  • Cerebrotendinous xanthomatosis
  • Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease can also lead to paralysis

Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) affected the young boy Lorenzo Odone, whose story is told in the 1993 film "Lorenzo's Oil." In this disease, the myelin sheath on nerve fibers in the brain is lost and the adrenal gland degenerates, leading to progressive neurological disability.

For more information, see The Myelin Project, established in 1989 by Augusto and Michaela Odone with the goal of accelerating research on myelin repair.


If you are looking for more information on leukodystrophies or have a specific question, our information specialists are available business weekdays, Monday through Friday, toll-free at 800-539-7309 from 9am to 5pm ET.

Additionally, the United Leukodystrophy Foundation (ULF) raises funds, offers resources and clinical detail on the ­leukodystrophies.

This project was supported, in part, by grant number 90PRRC0002, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.