Glycolipid storage material in Fabry's disease: a study by electron microscopy, freeze-fracture, and digital image analysis

J Struct Biol. 1990 Mar;103(1):40-7. doi: 10.1016/1047-8477(90)90084-p.


The glycolipid storage material in Fabry's disease was studied by electron microscopy of thin-sectioned (TS) and freeze-fractured (FF) specimens. In the kidney all deposits were found to be located in lysosomes, arranged as lamellar stacks. Deposits in the heart consisted of intracytoplasmic concentric whirls or folded lamellar structures. High resolution TS micrographs disclosed various defects in the lamellar structure. For stabilization, such defects require additional amphiphilic, surface-active molecules. These molecules could interact with other cellular constituents. The lamellar periodicity of the deposits in FF specimens was determined by reconstruction of the three-dimensional fracture face by digital image analysis. Homogeneous multilamellar deposits exhibited a periodicity of 14-15 nm, contrasting with the conventional estimates of 4-5 nm on TS micrographs. This difference is explained by better preservation of the physiologic hydrated state in FF specimens, with 1 vol of lipids binding 2 vol of water. Inhomogeneous structures with an even higher state of hydration included water lenses between the sheets. The strong hydration obviously contributes to the enlargement of the intracellular glycolipid deposits.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Fabry Disease / metabolism*
  • Freeze Fracturing
  • Glycolipids / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Kidney / ultrastructure
  • Male
  • Myocardium / ultrastructure


  • Glycolipids