Two unrelated and previously healthy girls, aged 17 and 18, presented with a subacute encephalopathy, visual and sensory symptoms and signs, and prominent seizures that were difficult to control. Brain MRI showed lesions (high signal on T2 weighted images) in the occipital lobes and thalamus; EEG showed slow wave activity with superimposed polyspikes. Inexorable downhill progression led to death in hepatic failure within eight months of onset. Histopathological findings in both patients ((a) chronic hepatitis with prominent bile duct proliferation, fatty change, and fibrosis; (b) in the brain a patchy destruction of the cerebral cortex, predominantly involving striate cortex) were characteristic of progressive neuronal degeneration of childhood with liver disease--Alpers-Huttenlocher syndrome--a rare autosomal recessive disorder usually seen in infants and young children.
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