Although ataxia-ocular motor apraxia (AOA) has been described as a disease entity mimicking ataxia telangiectasia (AT), no radiobiological studies have been carried out on cells from patients with AOA to find their possible relationship to AT. In the present study, cultured fibroblasts from three patients with AOA and their asymptomatic relatives (parents and sibs) were, therefore, compared with those from a classical AT homozygote, an AT heterozygote, and four healthy subjects for cell survival after acute and chronic irradiation. While a moderately increased cellular sensitivity (compared to normal) was observed in two AOA patients and most of their relatives, the degree of their radiosensitivity was quite different from that of the AT homozygote after both acute and chronic irradiation. One AOA patient exhibited increased cellular sensitivity similar to that of a classical AT homozygote up to 4% survival level after chronic irradiation but not after acute irradiation. A comparison of peripheral blood lymphocytes from two AOA patients, an AT homozygote, and two normal controls for spontaneous and (acute) radiation induced chromosomal breaks also failed to show any similarity between AOA and AT. These data support the notion that AOA is different from classical AT, and may represent a distinct disease entity controlled by specific gene(s), or compound heterozygotes involving different AT genes promoting the manifestation of AOA characteristics.
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