Genetic, biochemical, and clinical features of chronic granulomatous disease

Medicine (Baltimore). 2000 May;79(3):170-200. doi: 10.1097/00005792-200005000-00004.


The reduced nicotinamide dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) oxidase complex allows phagocytes to rapidly convert O2 to superoxide anion which then generates other antimicrobial reactive oxygen intermediates, such as H2O2, hydroxyl anion, and peroxynitrite anion. Chronic granulomatous disease (CGD) results from a defect in any of the 4 subunits of the NADPH oxidase and is characterized by recurrent life-threatening bacterial and fungal infections and abnormal tissue granuloma formation. Activation of the NADPH oxidase requires translocation of the cytosolic subunits p47phox (phagocyte oxidase), p67phox, and the low molecular weight GT-Pase Rac, to the membrane-bound flavocytochrome, a heterodimer composed of the heavy chain gp91phox and the light chain p22phox. This complex transfers electrons from NADPH on the cytoplasmic side to O2 on the vacuolar or extracellular side, thereby generating superoxide anion. Activation of the NADPH oxidase requires complex rearrangements between the protein subunits, which are in part mediated by noncovalent binding between src-homology 3 domains (SH3 domains) and proline-rich motifs. Outpatient management of CGD patients relies on the use of prophylactic antibiotics and interferon-gamma. When infection is suspected, aggressive effort to obtain culture material is required. Treatment of infections involves prolonged use of systemic antibiotics, surgical debridement when feasible, and, in severe infections, use of granulocyte transfusions. Mouse knockout models of CGD have been created in which to examine aspects of pathophysiology and therapy. Gene therapy and bone marrow transplantation trials in CGD patients are ongoing and show great promise.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Granulomatous Disease, Chronic* / diagnosis
  • Granulomatous Disease, Chronic* / genetics
  • Granulomatous Disease, Chronic* / immunology
  • Granulomatous Disease, Chronic* / microbiology
  • Granulomatous Disease, Chronic* / physiopathology
  • Granulomatous Disease, Chronic* / therapy
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Infections / complications
  • Infections / microbiology
  • Infections / therapy
  • Inflammation / etiology
  • Inflammation / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Models, Biological
  • Mutation
  • NADPH Oxidases / chemistry
  • NADPH Oxidases / genetics
  • NADPH Oxidases / metabolism


  • NADPH Oxidases