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Spinocerebellar ataxia type 38(SCA38)

MedGen UID:
Concept ID:
Disease or Syndrome
SNOMED CT: Spinocerebellar ataxia type 38 (734021001)
Modes of inheritance:
Autosomal dominant inheritance
MedGen UID:
Concept ID:
Intellectual Product
Source: Orphanet
A mode of inheritance that is observed for traits related to a gene encoded on one of the autosomes (i.e., the human chromosomes 1-22) in which a trait manifests in heterozygotes. In the context of medical genetics, an autosomal dominant disorder is caused when a single copy of the mutant allele is present. Males and females are affected equally, and can both transmit the disorder with a risk of 50% for each child of inheriting the mutant allele.
Gene (location): ELOVL5 (6p12.1)
Monarch Initiative: MONDO:0014417
OMIM®: 615957
Orphanet: ORPHA423296

Disease characteristics

Excerpted from the GeneReview: Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 38
Spinocerebellar ataxia type 38 (SCA38) is characterized as a pure cerebellar ataxia with symptoms typically manifesting in the fourth decade of life. The most common presenting features are nystagmus and slowly progressive gait ataxia. As the disease progresses, cerebellar symptoms (limb ataxia, dysarthria, dysphagia, diplopia on the horizontal line) may emerge, and affected individuals may experience sensory loss. In the later stages of the condition, ophthalmoparesis followed by ophthalmoplegia may occur. Features that distinguish SCA38 from other spinocerebellar ataxias include pes cavus without paresis, hyposmia, hearing loss, and anxiety disorder. Dementia and extrapyramidal signs are not common features of SCA38. Brain imaging typically demonstrates cerebellar atrophy mainly affecting the vermis without atrophy of the cerebral cortex and a normal appearance of the brain stem. With disease progression, nerve conduction velocities and electromyography demonstrate a sensory and motor axonal polyneuropathy in all four extremities. Life span is apparently not decreased. [from GeneReviews]
Alfredo Brusco  |  Eleonora Di Gregorio  |  Barbara Borroni   view full author information

Additional description

Spinocerebellar ataxia-38 is an autosomal dominant neurologic disorder characterized by adult-onset of slowly progressive gait ataxia accompanied by nystagmus. Brain MRI shows cerebellar atrophy (summary by Di Gregorio et al., 2014). For a general discussion of autosomal dominant spinocerebellar ataxia, see SCA1 (164400).  http://www.omim.org/entry/615957

Clinical features

From HPO
Cerebellar ataxia
MedGen UID:
Concept ID:
Disease or Syndrome
Cerebellar ataxia refers to ataxia due to dysfunction of the cerebellum. This causes a variety of elementary neurological deficits including asynergy (lack of coordination between muscles, limbs and joints), dysmetria (lack of ability to judge distances that can lead to under- or overshoot in grasping movements), and dysdiadochokinesia (inability to perform rapid movements requiring antagonizing muscle groups to be switched on and off repeatedly).
MedGen UID:
Concept ID:
Mental or Behavioral Dysfunction
Dysarthric speech is a general description referring to a neurological speech disorder characterized by poor articulation. Depending on the involved neurological structures, dysarthria may be further classified as spastic, flaccid, ataxic, hyperkinetic and hypokinetic, or mixed.
Cerebellar atrophy
MedGen UID:
Concept ID:
Disease or Syndrome
Cerebellar atrophy is defined as a cerebellum with initially normal structures, in a posterior fossa with normal size, which displays enlarged fissures (interfolial spaces) in comparison to the foliae secondary to loss of tissue. Cerebellar atrophy implies irreversible loss of tissue and result from an ongoing progressive disease until a final stage is reached or a single injury, e.g. an intoxication or infectious event.
Limb ataxia
MedGen UID:
Concept ID:
A kind of ataxia that affects movements of the extremities.
Gait ataxia
MedGen UID:
Concept ID:
Sign or Symptom
A type of ataxia characterized by the impairment of the ability to coordinate the movements required for normal walking. Gait ataxia is characteirzed by a wide-based staggering gait with a tendency to fall.
Peripheral axonal neuropathy
MedGen UID:
Concept ID:
Disease or Syndrome
An abnormality characterized by disruption of the normal functioning of peripheral axons.
MedGen UID:
Concept ID:
Disease or Syndrome
Rhythmic, involuntary oscillations of one or both eyes related to abnormality in fixation, conjugate gaze, or vestibular mechanisms.
Slow saccadic eye movements
MedGen UID:
Concept ID:
An abnormally slow velocity of the saccadic eye movements.

Term Hierarchy

CClinical test,  RResearch test,  OOMIM,  GGeneReviews,  VClinVar  
  • CROGVSpinocerebellar ataxia type 38

Professional guidelines


Rossi M, Hamed M, Rodríguez-Antigüedad J, Cornejo-Olivas M, Breza M, Lohmann K, Klein C, Rajalingam R, Marras C, van de Warrenburg BP
Mov Disord 2023 Mar;38(3):368-377. Epub 2022 Nov 14 doi: 10.1002/mds.29278. PMID: 36374860
Hirai H, Kano M
Curr Opin Pharmacol 2018 Feb;38:51-58. Epub 2018 Mar 8 doi: 10.1016/j.coph.2018.02.002. PMID: 29525719

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