Alexander Disease

Brain and Spinal Cord

Astrocytes, named for their characteristic star-like shape, are supportive cells of the central nervous system. Astrocytes surround neurons, the functional unit of the central nervous system, nourishing, protecting, and repairing them from stress or injury, as well as enhancing their function. In Alexander disease, astrocyte function is compromised.

  • Signs and symptoms

    Puppies are weak to nearly paralyzed. They characteristically display spastic front limbs (known as "swimming puppy syndrome").

    Signs develop in puppies.

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  • Diagnosis

    Genetic testing, clinical signs, laboratory tests, and advanced imaging may all be used to diagnose this disorder.

  • Treatment

    Alexander disease is currently untreatable, with owners typically opting to euthanize weeks to months after symptoms arise.

  • What to do if your dog is at risk


    • Keeping your affected puppy comfortable and giving them the best quality of life you can are the only actions you can take at home.

  • Genetic Information

    This mutation was first described in the Labrador Retriever.

    This mutation is inherited in an autosomal dominant manner, meaning that one or two copies of this gene will cause the disorder.

    Gene names:

    GFAP (Exon 4) ‐ chr9

    Inheritance type:


  • Breeds affected

    This health condition affects the following breeds

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