Medscape is available in 5 Language Editions – Choose your Edition here.


CADASIL (Cerebral Autosomal Dominant Arteriopathy With Subcortical Infarcts and Leukoencephalopathy) Treatment & Management

  • Author: Reza Behrouz, DO, FACP; Chief Editor: Helmi L Lutsep, MD  more...
Updated: Nov 25, 2015

Medical Care

Neither a cure nor a specific treatment exist for CADASIL. Treatment endeavors should be focused on management of headaches, mood and psychiatric disturbances, and rehabilitation following a brain ischemic injury.


Surgical Care

There is no specific surgical procedure indicated for the treatment of CADASIL.



See the list below:

  • Vascular neurology: To assist in diagnosis, patients who are suspected to have CADASIL should be seen and later observed by a vascular neurologist.
  • Dermatology: Consultation should be placed to a dermatologist for skin biopsy in those patients in whom biopsy is desired (for example, patients in whom genetic testing is negative but confirmation of the disease would be helpful).
  • Dermatopathology: The skin biopsy specimen should preferentially be investigated by a dermatopathologist.
  • Psychiatry: The many forms of psychiatric manifestations of CADASIL may be managed more appropriately by a psychiatrist.
  • Neuropsychology: A neuropsychologist can assist in gauging cognitive status or rate of deterioration.
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy


No specific diet is recommended for patients with CADASIL. However, because of the risk of developing dysphagia secondary to cerebral infarctions, some may eventually require percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) or jejunal feeding tube. Swallow evaluation should be performed after every ischemic episode or if the swallowing ability of the patient becomes questionable due to progressive pseudobulbar palsy.



Physical and cognitive disability is progressive and may be quite severe. In patients with CADASIL, it is important to frequently assess their ability in performing activities of daily living, ambulation, and self-care. A rehabilitation regimen should be prescribed when appropriate.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Reza Behrouz, DO, FACP Assistant Professor, Division of Cerebrovascular Diseases and Neurological Critical Care, Department of Neurology, The Ohio State University College of Medicine

Reza Behrouz, DO, FACP is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Neurology, American College of Physicians, Society of Critical Care Medicine, Society for Vascular Medicine, Neurocritical Care Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Selim R Benbadis, MD Professor, Director of Comprehensive Epilepsy Program, Departments of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Tampa General Hospital, University of South Florida College of Medicine

Selim R Benbadis, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Neurology, American Medical Association, American Academy of Sleep Medicine, American Clinical Neurophysiology Society, American Epilepsy Society

Disclosure: Serve(d) as a director, officer, partner, employee, advisor, consultant or trustee for: Cyberonics; Eisai; Lundbeck; Sunovion; UCB; Upsher-Smith<br/>Serve(d) as a speaker or a member of a speakers bureau for: Cyberonics; Eisai; Glaxo Smith Kline; Lundbeck; Sunovion; UCB<br/>Received research grant from: Cyberonics; Lundbeck; Sepracor; Sunovion; UCB; Upsher-Smith.

Specialty Editor Board

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

Glenn Lopate, MD Associate Professor, Department of Neurology, Division of Neuromuscular Diseases, Washington University School of Medicine; Consulting Staff, Department of Neurology, Barnes-Jewish Hospital

Glenn Lopate, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Neurology, American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine, Phi Beta Kappa

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Helmi L Lutsep, MD Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Neurology, Oregon Health and Science University School of Medicine; Associate Director, OHSU Stroke Center

Helmi L Lutsep, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Neurology, American Stroke Association

Disclosure: Medscape Neurology Editorial Advisory Board for: Stroke Adjudication Committee, CREST2.

Additional Contributors

Paul E Barkhaus, MD Professor of Neurology and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Department of Neurology, Medical College of Wisconsin; Section Chief, Neuromuscular and Autonomic Disorders, Department of Neurology, Director, ALS Program, Medical College of Wisconsin

Paul E Barkhaus, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Neurology, American Neurological Association, American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

  1. Sourander P, Walinder J. Hereditary multi-infarct dementia. Morphological and clinical studies of a new disease. Acta Neuropathol. 1977 Aug 31. 39(3):247-54. [Medline].

  2. Tournier-Lasserve E, Joutel A, Melki J, Weissenbach J, Lathrop GM, Chabriat H, et al. Cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy maps to chromosome 19q12. Nat Genet. 1993 Mar. 3(3):256-9. [Medline].

  3. Joutel A, Corpechot C, Ducros A, Vahedi K, Chabriat H, Mouton P, et al. Notch3 mutations in CADASIL, a hereditary adult-onset condition causing stroke and dementia. Nature. 1996 Oct 24. 383(6602):707-10. [Medline].

  4. Peters N, Freilinger T, Opherk C, Pfefferkorn T, Dichgans M. Effects of short term atorvastatin treatment on cerebral hemodynamics in CADASIL. J Neurol Sci. 2007 Sep 15. 260(1-2):100-5. [Medline].

  5. Meschia JF, Brott TG, Brown RD Jr. Genetics of cerebrovascular disorders. Mayo Clin Proc. 2005 Jan. 80(1):122-32. [Medline].

  6. Dichgans M, Mayer M, Uttner I, Bruning R, Müller-Hocker J, Rungger G, et al. The phenotypic spectrum of CADASIL: clinical findings in 102 cases. Ann Neurol. 1998 Nov. 44(5):731-9. [Medline].

  7. Opherk C, Peters N, Herzog J, Luedtke R, Dichgans M. Long-term prognosis and causes of death in CADASIL: a retrospective study in 411 patients. Brain. 2004 Nov. 127:2533-9. [Medline].

  8. Ruchoux MM, Maurage CA. CADASIL: Cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy. J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 1997 Sep. 56(9):947-64. [Medline].

  9. Arboleda-Velasquez JF, Lopera F, Lopez E, Frosch MP, Sepulveda-Falla D, Gutierrez JE, et al. C455R notch3 mutation in a Colombian CADASIL kindred with early onset of stroke. Neurology. 2002 Jul 23. 59(2):277-9. [Medline].

  10. Hartley J, Westmacott R, Decker J, Shroff M, Yoon G. Childhood-onset CADASIL: clinical, imaging, and neurocognitive features. J Child Neurol. 2010 May. 25(5):623-7. [Medline].

  11. Davous P. CADASIL: a review with proposed diagnostic criteria. Eur J Neurol. 1998 May. 5(3):219-233. [Medline].

  12. Desmond DW, Moroney JT, Lynch T, Chan S, Chin SS, Mohr JP. The natural history of CADASIL: a pooled analysis of previously published cases. Stroke. 1999 Jun. 30(6):1230-3. [Medline].

  13. Harris JG, Filley CM. CADASIL: neuropsychological findings in three generations of an affected family. J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2001 Sep. 7(6):768-74. [Medline].

  14. Gunda B, Hervé D, Godin O, Bruno M, Reyes S, Alili N, et al. Effects of Gender on the Phenotype of CADASIL. Stroke. 2012 Jan. 43(1):137-41. [Medline].

  15. Chabriat H, Bousser MG. Neuropsychiatric manifestations in CADASIL. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2007. 9(2):199-208. [Medline].

  16. Choi JC, Kang SY, Kang JH, Park JK. Intracerebral hemorrhages in CADASIL. Neurology. 2006 Dec 12. 67(11):2042-4. [Medline].

  17. Bentley P, Wang T, Malik O, Nicholas R, Ban M, Sawcer S. CADASIL with cord involvement associated with a novel and atypical NOTCH3 mutation. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2011 Jan 8. [Medline].

  18. Ito D, Tanahashi N, Murata M, Sato H, Saito I, Watanabe K, et al. Notch3 gene polymorphism and ischaemic cerebrovascular disease. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2002 Mar. 72(3):382-4. [Medline].

  19. Peters N, Opherk C, Bergmann T, Castro M, Herzog J, Dichgans M. Spectrum of mutations in biopsy-proven CADASIL: implications for diagnostic strategies. Arch Neurol. 2005 Jul. 62(7):1091-4. [Medline].

  20. Pescini F, Nannucci S, Bertaccini B, Salvadori E, Bianchi S, Ragno M, et al. The Cerebral Autosomal-Dominant Arteriopathy With Subcortical Infarcts and Leukoencephalopathy (CADASIL) Scale: a screening tool to select patients for NOTCH3 gene analysis. Stroke. 2012 Nov. 43(11):2871-6. [Medline].

  21. Chabriat H, Levy C, Taillia H, Iba-Zizen MT, Vahedi K, Joutel A, et al. Patterns of MRI lesions in CADASIL. Neurology. 1998 Aug. 51(2):452-7. [Medline].

  22. Lesnik Oberstein SA, van den Boom R, Middelkoop HA, Ferrari MD, Knaap YM, van Houwelingen HC, et al. Incipient CADASIL. Arch Neurol. 2003 May. 60(5):707-12. [Medline].

  23. Dichgans M, Filippi M, Bruning R, Iannucci G, Berchtenbreiter C, Minicucci L, et al. Quantitative MRI in CADASIL: correlation with disability and cognitive performance. Neurology. 1999 Apr 22. 52(7):1361-7. [Medline].

  24. O'Sullivan M, Jarosz JM, Martin RJ, Deasy N, Powell JF, Markus HS. MRI hyperintensities of the temporal lobe and external capsule in patients with CADASIL. Neurology. 2001 Mar 13. 56(5):628-34. [Medline].

  25. Markus HS, Martin RJ, Simpson MA, Dong YB, Ali N, Crosby AH, et al. Diagnostic strategies in CADASIL. Neurology. 2002 Oct 22. 59(8):1134-8. [Medline].

  26. Jouvent E, Viswanathan A, Mangin JF, O'Sullivan M, Guichard JP, Gschwendtner A, et al. Brain atrophy is related to lacunar lesions and tissue microstructural changes in CADASIL. Stroke. 2007 Jun. 38(6):1786-90. [Medline].

  27. Lesnik Oberstein SA, van den Boom R, van Buchem MA, van Houwelingen HC, Bakker E, Vollebregt E, et al. Cerebral microbleeds in CADASIL. Neurology. 2001 Sep 25. 57(6):1066-70. [Medline].

  28. Joutel A, Favrole P, Labauge P, Chabriat H, Lescoat C, Andreux F, et al. Skin biopsy immunostaining with a Notch3 monoclonal antibody for CADASIL diagnosis. Lancet. 2001 Dec 15. 358(9298):2049-51. [Medline].

  29. LaPoint SF, Patel U, Rubio A. Cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy (CADASIL). Adv Anat Pathol. 2000 Sep. 7(5):307-21. [Medline].

  30. Malandrini A, Gaudiano C, Gambelli S, Berti G, Serni G, Bianchi S, et al. Diagnostic value of ultrastructural skin biopsy studies in CADASIL. Neurology. 2007 Apr 24. 68(17):1430-2. [Medline].

  31. Kusaba T, Hatta T, Kimura T, Sonomura K, Tanda S, Kishimoto N, et al. Renal involvement in cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy (CADASIL). Clin Nephrol. 2007 Mar. 67(3):182-7. [Medline].

  32. Oh JH, Lee JS, Kang SY, Kang JH, Choi JC. Aspirin-associated intracerebral hemorrhage in a patient with CADASIL. Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2008 Apr. 110(4):384-6. [Medline].

  33. Dichgans M, Markus HS, Salloway S, Verkkoniemi A, Moline M, Wang Q. Donepezil in patients with subcortical vascular cognitive impairment: a randomised double-blind trial in CADASIL. Lancet Neurol. 2008 Apr. 7(4):310-8. [Medline].

  34. Forteza AM, Brozman B, Rabinstein AA, Romano JG, Bradley WG. Acetazolamide for the treatment of migraine with aura in CADASIL. Neurology. 2001 Dec 11. 57(11):2144-5. [Medline].

  35. Weller M, Dichgans J, Klockgether T. Acetazolamide-responsive migraine in CADASIL. Neurology. 1998 May. 50(5):1505. [Medline].

  36. Huang L, Yang Q, Zhang L, Chen X, Huang Q, Wang H. Acetazolamide improves cerebral hemodynamics in CADASIL. J Neurol Sci. 2010 May 15. 292(1-2):77-80. [Medline].

  37. Park SA, Yang CY, Choi SS, Kim WH. Assessment of cerebral hemodynamics to acetazolamide using brain perfusion SPECT in cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy. Clin Nucl Med. 2011 Feb. 36(2):158-9. [Medline].

FLAIR MRI of the brain showing hyperintensities involving the temporal poles in a patient with cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy (CADASIL). (Reprinted with permission from Mayo Clin Proc, Meschia, 2005.)
FLAIR MRI of the brain showing hyperintensities involving bilateral external capsules in a patient with cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy (CADASIL). (Reprinted with permission from Mayo Clin Proc, Meschia, 2005.)
All material on this website is protected by copyright, Copyright © 1994-2016 by WebMD LLC. This website also contains material copyrighted by 3rd parties.