Measurement of urinary CDH and CTH by tandem mass spectrometry in patients hemizygous and heterozygous for Fabry disease

J Inherit Metab Dis. 2005;28(1):35-48. doi: 10.1007/s10545-005-5263-4.


Fabry disease is an X-linked disorder of glycosphingolipid metabolism resulting from a deficiency of the lysosomal enzyme alpha-galactosidase A. This deficiency leads to the progressive accumulation, in lysosomes of visceral tissues and in body fluids of hemizygotes, of the glycosphingolipids globotriaosylceramide (CTH, Gb(3) or GL-3) and galabiosylceramide (CDH) and to a lesser extent the blood group AB and B related glycolipids. Elevated levels of the glycosphingolipids are found in the urine of hemizygous males with the classic phenotype, but it is not known whether all symptomatic or asymptomatic heterozygotes have elevated levels. We have therefore measured CTH and CDH quantitatively in a multiplex assay using tandem mass spectrometry in urine from a large cohort (44) of genetically proven or obligate heterozygotes including four with the N215S mutation, from classic hemizygotes (28), from cardiac variant hemizygotes with the N215S mutation (6) and from normal controls. The levels of CTH and CDH were related to both creatinine and sphingomyelin. Urinary CTH was elevated in all 28 classic hemizygotes but only in 4/6 of the cardiac variants. The level was within or just above the normal reference range in the four individuals heterozygous for the N215S mutation but was elevated in 38/40 of the other heterozygotes. Similar results were obtained for CDH, except that only 34/40 heterozygotes had an elevated level. The level of CDH was not elevated in the four heterozygotes and 4/6 of the hemizygotes for the N215S mutation. Combining the levels of CTH and CDH did not improve the discrimination of heterozygotes from controls. The ratio of CDH to CTH was higher in heterozygotes than in hemizygotes. Measurement of urinary CTH gave the best discrimination of heterozygotes from controls.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Chromosomes, Human, X
  • Cohort Studies
  • Creatinine / metabolism
  • Fabry Disease / genetics*
  • Fabry Disease / urine*
  • Gangliosides / chemistry
  • Gangliosides / urine
  • Glycolipids / metabolism
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Mutation
  • Phenotype
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization
  • Sphingomyelins / metabolism
  • Trihexosylceramides / urine


  • Gangliosides
  • Glycolipids
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Sphingomyelins
  • Trihexosylceramides
  • globotriaosylceramide
  • galabiosylceramide
  • Creatinine