BACKGROUND: Fabry disease (FD) is a rare X-linked lysosomal storage disorder due to mutations in the α-galactosidase A gene (GLA) that result in absent or markedly reduce α-galactosidase A (α-GalA) enzymatic activity. As a result, the major glycosphingolipid substrates, globotriaosylceramide (Gb3) and globotriaosylsphingosine (LysoGb3) accumulate in plasma, urine and tissue lysosomes. In females, the diagnosis can be complicated by the fact that 40-50% of GLA-mutation confirmed heterozygotes have normal or only slightly decreased leukocyte α-GalA activities. Recently, LysoGb3 has been appreciated as a novel FD biomarker, especially for therapeutic monitoring.
METHODS: Among our GLA-mutation proven FD patients, we screened 18 heterozygotes whose leukocyte α-GalA activity was determined at initial diagnosis. For these females, we measured their serum LysoGb3 levels using highly-sensitive electrospray ionization liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry.
RESULTS: We identified three unrelated females in whom the accumulating LysoGb3 was increased, whereas their leukocyte α-GalA activities were in the normal range.
CONCLUSION: LysoGb3 serves as an useful biomarker to improve the diagnosis of FD heterozygotes and for therapeutic evaluation and monitoring.