Peripheral neuropathy has been reported commonly in several spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA) types. To date, there is a lack of robust evidence for neuropathy or neuronopathy in SCA type 6 (SCA6). Here, we aim to evaluate the presence of neuropathy or neuronopathy in a cohort of SCA6 patients.
Twenty-four individuals with genetically confirmed SCA6 underwent detailed neurophysiological assessment. This included nerve conduction studies, and in some, cutaneous silent periods, blink reflexes, tilt table tests, quantitative sudomotor axon reflex tests, and somatosensory (median and tibial) evoked potentials.
Mean age was 56.1 years (range, 22-94 years) at the time of testing. Four patients were presymptomatic of SCA6 at recruitment. The mean disease duration of symptomatic patients was 11.9 years (range, 1-40 years). Most patients (79.2%, 19/24) had no neurophysiological evidence of a peripheral neuropathy. One with impaired glucose tolerance had mild, large, and small fiber sensorimotor polyneuropathy. One elderly patient had length-dependent axonal sensorimotor polyneuropathy. Two had minor sensory abnormalities (one had type II diabetes and previous chemotherapy). One other had minor small fiber abnormalities. Ten patients (41.7%) had median neuropathies at the wrist. All somatosensory evoked potential (15/15), and most autonomic function tests (13/14) were normal.
A large proportion of subjects (79.2%) in our cohort had no evidence of large or small fiber neuropathy. This study does not support the presence of neuropathy or neuronopathy as a common finding in SCA6 and confirms the importance of considering comorbidities as the cause of neurophysiological abnormalities.

Copyright © 2021 by the American Clinical Neurophysiology Society.