Selective screening for lysosomal storage disorders in a large cohort of minorities of African descent shows high prevalence rates and novel variants

JIMD Rep. 2021 Jan 27;59(1):60-68. doi: 10.1002/jmd2.12201. eCollection 2021 May.


Population studies point to regional and ethnicity-specific differences in genetic predisposition for some lysosomal storage disorders (LSDs). The aim of the study was to determine the prevalence of the three treatable forms of lysosomal storage disorders (Gaucher disease [GD], Pompe disease [PD], and Fabry disease [FD]) in a cohort of mostly urban-dwelling individuals of African ancestry, a previously unknown genetic landscape for LSDs. Large-scale selective multistep biochemical and genetic screening was performed in patients seeking healthcare for various health concerns. Fluorimetric enzyme assays for GD, PD, and FD were performed on dried blood spots. Targeted gene sequencing was performed on samples that showed significantly lower enzyme activities (<10% of control mean) after two tiers of enzymatic screening. A total of 5287 unique samples representing a cross section of patients who visited Howard University Hospital and College of Medicine from 2015 to 2017 were included in the study. Study samples were obtained from a population where ~90% reported as African-American, ~5% Hispanic, and <5% Caucasian or other. Regarding GD, three subjects had either homozygous or heterozygous mutations in the GBA gene. As to PD, eight subjects were either homozygous or compound heterozygous for GAA mutations, including three novel mutations: (a) c.472 A > G; p.T158A, (b) c.503G > T; p.R168L, (c) c.1985del. Regarding FD, two subjects had pathogenic GLA mutations, and four had single nucleotide polymorphisms in the 5'UTR, previously implicated in modulating gene expression. The findings highlight a higher incidence of abnormal enzyme levels and pathogenic mutations in the target population reflecting ancestry-based specific genotype and phenotype variations.

Keywords: African‐Americans; Fabry disease; Gaucher disease; Pompe disease; large‐scale screening; lysosomal storage disorders.