Sanfilippo syndrome: Overall review

Pediatr Int. 2015 Jun;57(3):331-8. doi: 10.1111/ped.12636.


Mucopolysaccharidosis type III (MPS III, Sanfilippo syndrome) is a lysosomal storage disorder, caused by a deficiency in one of the four enzymes involved in the catabolism of glycosaminoglycan heparan sulfate. It is characterized by progressive cognitive decline and severe hyperactivity, with relatively mild somatic features. This review focuses on clinical features, diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up of MPS III, and provides information about supplementary tests and differential diagnosis. Given that few reviews of MPS III have been published, several studies were compiled to establish diagnostic recommendations. Quantitative urinary glycosaminoglycan analysis is strongly recommended, and measurement of disaccharides, heparin cofactor II-thrombin complex and gangliosides is also used. Enzyme activity of the different enzymes in blood serum, leukocytes or fibroblasts, and mutational analysis for SGSH, NAGLU, HGSNAT or GNS genes are required to confirm diagnosis and differentiate four subtypes of MPS III. Although there is no global consensus for treatment, enzyme replacement therapy and gene therapy can provide appropriate results. In this regard, recent publications on treatment and follow-up are discussed.

Keywords: behavioral problem; developmental delay; heparan sulfate; mucopolysaccharidosis type III.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnostic Imaging*
  • Disease Management*
  • Global Health
  • Glycosaminoglycans / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Morbidity
  • Mucopolysaccharidosis III* / diagnosis
  • Mucopolysaccharidosis III* / epidemiology
  • Mucopolysaccharidosis III* / therapy


  • Glycosaminoglycans