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Disease Profile

Familial cerebral cavernous malformation

Prevalence estimates on Rare Medical Network websites are calculated based on data available from numerous sources, including US and European government statistics, the NIH, Orphanet, and published epidemiologic studies. Rare disease population data is recognized to be highly variable, and based on a wide variety of source data and methodologies, so the prevalence data on this site should be assumed to be estimated and cannot be considered to be absolutely correct.


US Estimated

Europe Estimated

Age of onset





Autosomal dominant A pathogenic variant in only one gene copy in each cell is sufficient to cause an autosomal dominant disease.


Autosomal recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of each gene of the chromosome are needed to cause an autosomal recessive disease and observe the mutant phenotype.


dominant X-linked dominant inheritance, sometimes referred to as X-linked dominance, is a mode of genetic inheritance by which a dominant gene is carried on the X chromosome.


recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of a gene on the X chromosome cause an X-linked recessive disorder.


Mitochondrial or multigenic Mitochondrial genetic disorders can be caused by changes (mutations) in either the mitochondrial DNA or nuclear DNA that lead to dysfunction of the mitochondria and inadequate production of energy.


Multigenic or multifactor Inheritance involving many factors, of which at least one is genetic but none is of overwhelming importance, as in the causation of a disease by multiple genetic and environmental factors.


Not applicable


Other names (AKA)

Familial brain cavernous angioma; Familial cerebral cavernoma; Familial brain cavernous hemangioma;


The following summary is from Orphanet, a European reference portal for information on rare diseases and orphan drugs.

Orpha Number: 221061

A rare, capillary-venous malformations characterized by closely clustered irregular dilated capillaries that can be asymptomatic or that can cause variable neurological manifestations such as seizures, non-specific headaches, progressive or transient focal neurologic deficits, and/or cerebral hemorrhages.

The overall prevalence of all CCMs has been estimated at 1/200 to 1/1,000 individuals. Familial cerebral cavernous malformation (FCCM) represents about 20% of all CCM cases with an estimated prevalence of 1/5,000 -1/10,000 and is therefore rare, contrarily to sporadic CCMs which are not. A strong founder effect has been found in Hispanic-American CCM families.

Clinical description
Close to 60% of FCCM patients are symptomatic. FCCM usually manifests between 20 to 30 years of age, but clinical manifestations can occur at any age. Symptoms include seizures (40-70%), non-specific headaches (10-30%), progressive or transient focal neurologic deficits (35-50%), and/or cerebral hemorrhages (41%). FCCM patients most often present with multiple lesions, ranging from a few millimeters to a few centimeters in size. FCCMs occur predominantly in the brain, but have also been reported in the spinal cord, retina (5% of FCCM patients) and skin.

To date, mutations in three genes have been demonstrated to cause familial CCM; KRIT1, CCM2 and PDCD10, located on chromosome 7q21.2, 7p13, and 3q26.1 respectively, which encode proteins that, among their various functions, modulate junction formation between vascular endothelial cells.

Diagnostic methods
Cerebral magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealing the CCM(s) is the gold standard investigation to diagnose CCM and should include a T2 gradient echo sequence which is highly sensitive for hemosiderin. MRI shows multiple lesions in most FCCM patients in contrast with sporadic cases who harbor only one lesion. The detection of multiple CCM lesions is therefore strongly suggestive of the genetic nature of the disease. Molecular screening of FCCM genes is sometimes useful to ascertain the diagnosis in patients showing atypical MRI lesions; however, in most cases, it is used for genetic counseling.

Differential diagnosis
In cases presenting with atypical hemorrhagic MRI lesions, the differential diagnosis of FCCM includes multiple hemorrhagic metastases or hereditary cerebral hemorrhage with amyloidosis.

Antenatal diagnosis
Prenatal diagnosis is possible. However, in practice, very few prenatal diagnoses are requested in this disease (mostly in families where several patients have been severely affected with CCMs in the basal ganglia or spinal cord or pons).

Genetic counseling
FCCM is transmitted as an autosomal dominant trait with incomplete penetrance. Genetic counseling should be offered to the affected families informing them of the 50% risk of inheriting the mutated gene. Other important considerations in evaluating the genetic predisposition of CCMs include the number of lesions on the MRI brain scan, family history of CCM clinical characteristics, and the age of onset.

Management and treatment
Regular check-ups, generally with an MRI once a year, are recommended after the discovery of a CCM, as additional asymptomatic lesions may appear with time. These MRI check-ups can be spaced to once every 5 years in the absence of intercurrent symptoms. Treatment of seizures and headaches is symptomatic. Lesions causing severe disabling seizures and/or focal neurologic deficits and/or cerebral hemorrhages call for surgical removal of lesions whenever possible. Acetylsalicylic acid, heparin and warfarin may increase the risk of hemorrhage.

FCCM is an evolving condition with a strong correlation between the patient's age and the number of CCM lesions. The hemorrhagic event rate is estimated at 2-5% per lesion per year. Functional outcome is mostly conditioned by the location of CCM lesions, with brainstem and basal ganglia lesions having a worse prognosis. Available data suggest that in most patients the long-term prognosis is quite favorable with a preserved autonomy in 80% of cases.

Visit the Orphanet disease page for more resources.


This table lists symptoms that people with this disease may have. For most diseases, symptoms will vary from person to person. People with the same disease may not have all the symptoms listed. This information comes from a database called the Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO) . The HPO collects information on symptoms that have been described in medical resources. The HPO is updated regularly. Use the HPO ID to access more in-depth information about a symptom.

Medical Terms Other Names
Learn More:
80%-99% of people have these symptoms
Cerebral hemorrhage
Bleeding in brain
30%-79% of people have these symptoms
Focal T2 hyperintense brainstem lesion
Focal T2 hypointense brainstem lesion
Increased intracranial pressure
Rise in pressure inside skull
Nerve tumor
Pinched nerve

[ more ]

5%-29% of people have these symptoms
Choroidal hemangioma
Cognitive impairment
Abnormality of cognition
Cognitive abnormality
Cognitive defects
Cognitive deficits
Intellectual impairment
Mental impairment

[ more ]

Episodic vomiting
Retinal cavernous angioma
Spinal cord lesion
Vascular skin abnormality
Venous malformation

Learn more

These resources provide more information about this condition or associated symptoms. The in-depth resources contain medical and scientific language that may be hard to understand. You may want to review these resources with a medical professional.

In-Depth Information

  • Orphanet is a European reference portal for information on rare diseases and orphan drugs. Access to this database is free of charge.