The natural history of Type 1 infantile GM1 gangliosidosis: A literature-based meta-analysis

Mol Genet Metab. 2020 Mar;129(3):228-235. doi: 10.1016/j.ymgme.2019.12.012. Epub 2019 Dec 30.


Introduction: Type 1 GM1 gangliosidosis is an ultra-rare, rapidly fatal lysosomal storage disorder, with life expectancy of <3 years of age. To date, only one prospective natural history study of limited size has been reported. Thus, there is a need for additional research to provide a better understanding of the progression of this disease. We have leveraged the past two decades of medical literature to conduct the first comprehensive retrospective study characterizing the natural history of Type 1 GM1 gangliosidosis.

Objectives: The objectives of this study were to establish a large sample of patients from the literature in order to identify: 1) clinically distinguishing factors between Type 1 and Type 2 GM1 gangliosidosis, 2) age at first symptom onset, first hospital admission, diagnosis, and death, 3) time to onset of common clinical findings, and 4) timing of developmental milestone loss.

Methods: PubMed was searched with the keyword "GM1 Gangliosidosis" and for articles from the year 2000 onwards. A preliminary review of these results was conducted to establish subtype classification criteria for inclusion of only Type 1 patients, resulting in 44 articles being selected to generate the literature dataset of 154 Type 1 GM1 gangliosidosis patients. Key clinical events of these patient cases were recorded from the articles.

Results: Comprehensive subtyping criteria for Type 1 GM1 gangliosidosis were created, and clinical events, including onset, diagnosis, death, and symptomology, were mapped over time. In this dataset, average age of diagnosis was 8.7 months, and average age of death was 18.9 months.

Discussion: This analysis demonstrates the predictable clinical course of this disease, as almost all patients experienced significant multi-organ system dysfunction and neurodevelopmental regression, particularly in the 6- to 18-month age range. Patients were diagnosed at a late age relative to disease progression, indicating the need for improved public awareness and screening.

Conclusion: This study highlights the significant burden of illness in this disease and provides critical natural history data to drive earlier diagnosis, inform clinical trial design, and facilitate family counseling.

Keywords: GM1 gangliosidosis; Literature review; Lysosomal storage disorder; Meta-analysis; Natural history study; Type 1.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Gangliosidosis, GM1 / diagnosis*
  • Gangliosidosis, GM1 / mortality
  • Gangliosidosis, GM1 / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Lysosomal Storage Diseases / enzymology
  • Lysosomal Storage Diseases / genetics
  • Lysosomal Storage Diseases / physiopathology
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders / physiopathology
  • PubMed
  • Rare Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Rare Diseases / mortality
  • Rare Diseases / physiopathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • beta-Galactosidase / genetics
  • beta-Galactosidase / metabolism


  • beta-Galactosidase