Calif Med. 1971 Apr;114(4):1-6.


Sphingolipidoses are an heterogeneous group of inherited disorders of lipid metabolism affecting primarily the central nervous system. These disorders occur chiefly in the pediatric population, and the degenerative nature of the disease processes is generally characterized by diffuse and progressive involvement of neurones (gray matter) with psychomotor retardation and myoclonus or of fiber tracts (white matter) with weakness and spasticity. Biochemical research has identified the defects in the sphingolipidoses to specific lysosomal enzymes. For example, Niemann-Pick disease lacks sphingomyelinase; Krabbe's disease lacks galactocerebrosidase; Gaucher's disease lacks beta-D-glucosidase; metachromatic leukodystrophy lacks sulfatase; Tay-Sachs disease lacks hexosaminidase A; and generalized gangliosidosis lacks beta-galactosidase. Although there are no currently available modes of rendering corrective therapy in these disorders, a definitive diagnosis is possible both antepartum as well as postpartum. This information provides a sound and accurate basis for genetic counseling.

MeSH terms

  • Brain / metabolism
  • Diffuse Cerebral Sclerosis of Schilder / genetics
  • Gangliosides / metabolism
  • Gaucher Disease / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Lipid Metabolism, Inborn Errors / diagnosis*
  • Lipidoses / diagnosis
  • Niemann-Pick Diseases / diagnosis


  • Gangliosides