Acid Sphingomyelinase Deficiency: A Clinical and Immunological Perspective

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Nov 28;22(23):12870. doi: 10.3390/ijms222312870.


Acid sphingomyelinase deficiency (ASMD) is a lysosomal storage disease caused by deficient activity of acid sphingomyelinase (ASM) enzyme, leading to the accumulation of varying degrees of sphingomyelin. Lipid storage leads to foam cell infiltration in tissues, and clinical features including hepatosplenomegaly, pulmonary insufficiency and in some cases central nervous system involvement. ASM enzyme replacement therapy is currently in clinical trial being the first treatment addressing the underlying pathology of the disease. Therefore, presently, it is critical to better comprehend ASMD to improve its diagnose and monitoring. Lung disease, including recurrent pulmonary infections, are common in ASMD patients. Along with lung disease, several immune system alterations have been described both in patients and in ASMD animal models, thus highlighting the role of ASM enzyme in the immune system. In this review, we summarized the pivotal roles of ASM in several immune system cells namely on macrophages, Natural Killer (NK) cells, NKT cells, B cells and T cells. In addition, an overview of diagnose, monitoring and treatment of ASMD is provided highlighting the new enzyme replacement therapy available.

Keywords: Niemann–Pick; acid sphingomyelinase deficiency; immune; lysosomal storage disease; sphingomyelinase.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Enzyme Replacement Therapy
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases / enzymology
  • Lysosomal Storage Diseases / diagnosis
  • Lysosomal Storage Diseases / genetics
  • Lysosomal Storage Diseases / immunology*
  • Lysosomal Storage Diseases / therapy
  • Sphingomyelin Phosphodiesterase / deficiency*
  • Sphingomyelin Phosphodiesterase / genetics
  • Sphingomyelin Phosphodiesterase / immunology


  • Sphingomyelin Phosphodiesterase