Cerebrovascular complications of Fabry's disease

Ann Neurol. 1996 Jul;40(1):8-17. doi: 10.1002/ana.410400105.


Fabry's disease (FD) is a rare, sex-linked disorder resulting from alpha-galactosidase deficiency. Cerebrovascular complications have been reported in the literature but have not been systematically analyzed. We report 2 patients and review 51 previously reported cases (descriptive meta-analysis) to clarify the clinical, radiologic, and pathologic features. The average age at onset of cerebrovascular symptoms was 33.8 years for hemizygous individuals (n = 43) and 40.3 years of heterozygotes (n = 10). The most frequent symptoms and signs were as follows (in descending order of frequency): hemiparesis, vertigo/dizziness, diplopia, dysarthria, nystagmus, nausea/vomiting, head pain, hemiataxia, and ataxia of gait, in the hemizygote group; and memory loss, dizziness, ataxia, hemiparesis, loss of consciousness and hemisensory symptoms, in the heterozygote group. The vertebrobasilar circulation was symptomatic in 67% of the hemizygotes and 60% of the heterozygotes. Intracerebral hemorrhage was found in 4 patients (3 hemizygotes and 1 heterozygote). Elongated, ectatic, tortuous vertebral and basilar arteries were the most common angiographic and pathologic features. For the hemizygotes, the recurrence rate for cerebrovascular disease was 76% and the death rate was 55%; 86% of the heterozygotes had recurrent cerebrovascular event(s) and 40% died. The cerebrovascular manifestations of FD, in both hemizygotes and heterozygotes, are predominantly due to dilative arteriopathy of the vertebrobasilar circulation, frequently recur, and portend a poor prognosis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain Ischemia / diagnosis
  • Brain Ischemia / etiology*
  • Brain Ischemia / physiopathology
  • Cerebral Angiography
  • Cerebral Arteries / physiopathology
  • Fabry Disease / complications*
  • Fabry Disease / metabolism
  • Fabry Disease / mortality
  • Female
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Survival Rate
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed