Friedrich's Ataxia


Friedrich’s ataxia is an autosomal recessive disorder resulting from a repeat nucleotide sequence (GAA) in the frataxin gene, which codes for the mitochondrial protein frataxin. It most commonly causes cerebellar signs but can also affect other neurological pathways



Deficiency of the frataxin protein causes mitochondrial iron-overload, and impaire mitochondrial function.
The disease causes neuronal degeneration. Most commonly

Signs and Symptoms

  • Gait problems – between age 5-15 – wide based ataxic gait
  • Upper limb ataxia and dysarthria– appear after gait abnormalities
  • Nystagmus
  • Declining mental function
  • Lower limb paresis may occur in some patients
  • Reduction / loss of reflexes
  • Loss of vibration and joint positional senses



Prognosis and treatment

  • There is no cure
  • Life expectancy is about 50 years
  • Surgery may provide symptomatic relief

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