Fabry disease: recent advances in pathology, diagnosis, treatment and monitoring

Orphanet J Rare Dis. 2009 Oct 11;4:21. doi: 10.1186/1750-1172-4-21.


Background: In Fabry disease (alpha-galactosidase A deficiency) accumulation of Globotriaosylceramide (Gb3) leads to progressive organ failure and premature death. The introduction of enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) was the beginning of a new era in this disorder, and has prompted a broad range of research activities. This review aims to summarize recent developments and progress with high impact for Fabry disease.

Methods: A Pubmed analysis was performed using the search terms "Fabry disease", "Anderson-Fabry disease", "alpha-galactosidase A" and "Gb3". Of the given publications by 31st January 2009 only original articles recently published in peer reviewed journals were included for this review. Case reports were included only when they comprised a new aspect. In addition we included relevant conference abstracts when the results had not already been published as original articles.

Results: Apart from Gb3-accumulation cellular and organ specific damages may be related also to inflammatory and immunological consequences. It will be interesting whether this may lead to new therapeutic strategies in the treatment of Fabry disease. Since newborn screening is still difficult in Fabry disease, detection of patients in populations at risk is of great importance. Undiagnosed patients with Fabry disease may still be found in cohorts of subjects with renal diseases, cardiomyopathy and TIA or stroke. Efforts should be undertaken to identify these individuals and initialise ERT in order to hault disease progression. It has also been demonstrated that Gb3-accumulation leads to pre-clinical damages and it is believed that early treatment may be the only possibility so far to prevent irreversible organ damage.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Enzyme Replacement Therapy / methods
  • Fabry Disease* / diagnosis
  • Fabry Disease* / pathology
  • Fabry Disease* / therapy
  • Humans
  • alpha-Galactosidase / genetics


  • alpha-Galactosidase