The mucopolysaccharidoses (MPS) are a group of diseases caused by the lysosomal accumulation of glycosaminoglycans, due to genetic deficiencies of enzymes involved in their degradation. MPS III or Sanfilippo disease, in particular, is characterized by early-onset severe, progressive neurodegeneration but mild somatic involvement, with patients losing milestones and previously acquired skills as the disease progresses. Despite being the focus of extensive research over the past years, the links between accumulation of the primary molecule, the glycosaminoglycan heparan sulfate, and the neurodegeneration seen in patients have yet to be fully elucidated. This review summarizes the current knowledge on the molecular bases of neurological decline in Sanfilippo disease. It emerges that this deterioration results from the dysregulation of multiple cellular pathways, leading to neuroinflammation, oxidative stress, impaired autophagy and defects in cellular signaling. However, many important questions about the neuropathological mechanisms of the disease remain unanswered, highlighting the need for further research in this area.
Keywords: Sanfilippo syndrome; molecular bases; mucopolysaccharidosis III; neurodegeneration.