Neuroimaging Findings in Patients with Mucopolysaccharidosis: What You Really Need to Know

Radiographics. Sep-Oct 2016;36(5):1448-62. doi: 10.1148/rg.2016150168.


Mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS) is an inherited metabolic disease and a member of the group of lysosomal storage disorders. Its hallmark is a deficiency of lysosomal enzymes involved in the degradation of mucopolysaccharides, also known as glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). The products of GAG degradation accumulate within lysosomes and in the extracellular space, thereby interfering with the degradation of other macromolecules. This process leads to chronic degeneration of cells, which in turn affects multiple organs and systems. There are seven distinct types of MPS (I, II, III, IV, VI, VII, and IX), which are divided into subtypes according to the deficient enzyme and the severity of the clinical picture. Although clinical manifestations vary considerably among the different types of MPS, the central nervous system (CNS) is characteristically affected, and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging is the method of choice to evaluate brain and spinal cord abnormalities. Enlarged perivascular spaces, white matter lesions, hydrocephalus, brain atrophy, cervical spinal canal stenosis with or without spinal cord compression and myelopathy, and bone abnormalities in the skull and spine (dysostosis multiplex) are typical imaging findings described in the literature and reviewed in this article. The differential diagnosis of MPS is limited because the constellation of imaging findings is highly suggestive. Thus, radiologists should be aware of its typical neuroimaging findings so they can recognize cases not yet diagnosed, exclude other metabolic diseases, monitor CNS findings over time, and assess treatment response. (©)RSNA, 2016.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Mucopolysaccharidoses / diagnostic imaging*
  • Mucopolysaccharidoses / physiopathology
  • Neuroimaging / methods*