Fabry disease: genetics, pathology, and treatment

Rev Assoc Med Bras (1992). 2020 Jan 13;66Suppl 1(Suppl 1):s10-s16. doi: 10.1590/1806-9282.66.S1.10.


Fabry disease (FD) is a recessive monogenic inheritance disease linked to chromosome X, secondary to mutations in the GLA gene. Its prevalence is estimated between 1:8,454 and 1:117,000 among males and is probably underdiagnosed. Mutations in the GLA gene lead to the progressive accumulation of globotriaosylceramide (Gb3). Gb3 accumulates in lysosomes of different types of cells of the heart, kidneys, skin, eyes, central nervous system, and gastrointestinal system, and may lead to different clinical scenarios. The onset of symptoms occurs during childhood, with acroparesthesia, heat intolerance, and gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and neuropathic pain. Subsequently, symptoms related to progressive impairment appear, such as angiokeratomas, cornea verticillata, left ventricular hypertrophy, myocardial fibrosis, proteinuria, and renal insufficiency. The latter being the main cause of death in FD. The gold standard for diagnosis is the genetic analysis in search of mutation, in addition to family history. In homozygous patients, the enzyme activity can also be used. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, the patient and their family should receive genetic counseling. The treatment, in turn, currently focuses mainly on replacing the enzyme that is absent or deficient by means of enzyme replacement therapy, with the purpose of avoiding or removing deposits of Gb3. Chaperones can also be used for the treatment of some cases. It is considered that the specific treatment should be initiated as soon as a diagnosis is obtained, which can change the prognosis of the disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Enzyme Replacement Therapy*
  • Fabry Disease / complications
  • Fabry Disease / genetics
  • Fabry Disease / pathology*
  • Fabry Disease / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney / pathology*
  • Male
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / etiology
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / pathology*
  • Trihexosylceramides


  • Trihexosylceramides
  • globotriaosylceramide