Article Abstract

Paediatric Fabry disease

Authors: Carolyn Ellaway


Fabry disease is a rare, progressive X-linked inborn error of the glycosphingolipid metabolic pathway. Mutations of the GLA gene result in deficiency of the lysosomal enzyme, α-galactosidase A (α-Gal A) with accumulation of glycosphingolipids, particularly globotriaosylceramide (GL3) in the vascular endothelium of various tissues. Accumulation of GL3 eventually leads to life threatening renal, cardiac and cerebrovascular complications typically in the third to fifth decades of life. The first signs and symptoms of classic Fabry disease however appear in childhood but diagnosis is often delayed. The symptoms most commonly experienced in childhood include neuropathic pain, gastrointestinal dysfunction, hypohydrosis and heat intolerance. Timely diagnosis is important as early treatment with enzyme replacement therapy reduces GL3 accumulation, can stabilize disease progression and potentially prevent irreversible organ damage. Physicians should be familiar with the signs and symptoms of Fabry disease in childhood and be particularly vigilant for unusual or non-specific but recurrent or episodic symptoms.