Background: Although previous studies reported that the prevalence of Fabry's disease was 0.16 - 1.2% in hemodialysis (HD) patients based on measurement of a-galactosidase A (alpha-Gal A) activity, few reports detected female patients by the screening for alpha-Gal A. Here we determined the prevalence of Fabry's disease not only in male but also in female HD patients by measuring alpha-Gal A.
Methods: Plasma alpha-Gal A was measured in 696 consecutive males (n = 401) and females (n = 295) on HD. Patients with low plasma alpha-Gal A were examined for leukocyte alpha-Gal A, and patients with low leukocyte alpha-Gal A underwent alpha-Gal A gene sequence analysis for possible mutations, and family survey.
Results: Among 15 patients with low plasma alpha-Gal A activity, 4 male patients with low leukocyte alpha-Gal A and 1 female patient revealing low plasma alpha-Gal A were detected in 696 HD patients (0.7% of total patients). 3 of these 5 patients were already diagnosed to have the classical type of Fabry's disease. The other 2 patients were newly diagnosed as Fabry's disease, and did not have typical manifestations of Fabry's disease other than renal failure and left ventricular hypertrophy. DNA analysis of these 2 newly diagnosed patients revealed that each had an alpha-Gal missense mutation, previously identified (E66Q, M2961).
Conclusion: Fabry's disease should be considered in the etiology of unexplained end-stage renal disease. Not only affected males but also affected females undergoing HD patients can be readily diagnosed by alpha-Gal A activities and gene analysis. These patients and their family members may benefit from enzyme replacement therapy for Fabry's disease.