Rare Diseases in Glycosphingolipid Metabolism

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2022:1372:189-213. doi: 10.1007/978-981-19-0394-6_13.


Sphingolipidoses is a cluster of genetic rare disorders regarding glycosphingolipid metabolism, classified as lysosomal storage disorders (LSD). Here, we focus on eight inheritable diseases, including GM1 gangliosidosis, GM2 gangliosidosis, Fabry disease, Gaucher's disease, metachromatic leukodystrophy, Krabbe disease, Niemann-Pick disease A and B, and Farber disease. Mostly, pathogenic mutations in the key enzyme are loss-function, resulting in accumulation of substrates and deficiency of products. Thus, cellular overload of substrates causes lipotoxicity, which is deleterious to cellular and organ function. In the terms of clinical manifestations in sphingolipidoses, multiple systems and organs, especially central nervous system (CNS) are usually affected. As for diagnosis strategy, enzymatic activity assay and genetic sequencing are helpful. Up till now, limited treatment approaches have approved for treating sphingolipidoses, with some potential strategies for further evaluation. In general, enzyme replacement therapy (ERT), substrate reduction therapy (SRT), and molecular chaperones are feasible choices for enzyme deficiency disorders, but these therapies are limited to relieve CNS lesions and symptoms due to prevention from blood-brain barrier. Other possible treatments such as gene therapy, bone marrow transplantation (BMT), and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) need further evaluation.

Keywords: Fabry disease; Farber disease; GM1 gangliosidosis; GM2 gangliosidosis; Gaucher’s disease; Glycosphingolipid; Krabbe disease; Lysosomal storage disorder; Metachromatic leukodystrophy; Niemann–Pick disease A and B; Sphingolipidoses.

MeSH terms

  • Fabry Disease*
  • Glycosphingolipids
  • Humans
  • Lysosomal Storage Diseases* / metabolism
  • Rare Diseases / diagnosis
  • Rare Diseases / genetics
  • Rare Diseases / therapy
  • Sphingolipidoses* / diagnosis
  • Sphingolipidoses* / genetics
  • Sphingolipidoses* / metabolism


  • Glycosphingolipids