Impact of kidney biopsy on deciding when to initiate enzyme replacement therapy in children with Fabry disease

Pediatr Nephrol. 2024 Jan;39(1):131-140. doi: 10.1007/s00467-023-06050-5. Epub 2023 Jul 20.


Background: Recommendations on when to start enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) in children with Fabry disease (FD) differ between guidelines. In this study, kidney biopsies of a cohort of 14 untreated children and one treated child were analyzed for their morphologic changes to determine whether early initiation of ERT is indicated.

Methods: All pediatric FD patients (< 18 years old) diagnosed between 2003 and 2021 in our department who received a kidney biopsy were enrolled. Clinical symptoms; laboratory parameters regarding kidney function, such as eGFR, plasma urea, protein-creatinine, and albumin/creatinine ratio; and 14 kidney biopsies prior to ERT and one under treatment were retrospectively analyzed.

Results: A total of 14 patients were enrolled, including 9 male and 5 female children, aged 3-18 years (median age 11). Seven of the enrolled children were 10 years old or younger. Histological analysis of kidney biopsy samples revealed severe vacuolization and accumulation of inclusions in podocytes and renal tubules. The majority of cases had no FD-specific clinical or laboratory features independent of age, gender, or genotype. The youngest FD patient presenting with isolated abnormal kidney biopsy was 3 years old.

Conclusions: We demonstrate that histological lesions, typical for FD, can be observed in kidney biopsies at a very young age in patients without classical clinical symptoms or laboratory abnormalities. Thus, we recommend kidney biopsies as a possible tool for early diagnosis of renal involvement in FD. As a consequence of these early biopsy findings without a clinical correlate, an early initiation of ERT should be considered. A higher resolution version of the Graphical abstract is available as Supplementary information.

Keywords: Children; Enzyme replacement therapy; Fabry Disease; Kidney biopsy; Podocyte.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Biopsy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Creatinine
  • Enzyme Replacement Therapy
  • Fabry Disease* / diagnosis
  • Fabry Disease* / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • alpha-Galactosidase


  • Creatinine
  • alpha-Galactosidase