Aspartylglucosaminuria in a Canadian family

Clin Invest Med. 1998 Jun;21(3):114-23.


Aspartylglucosaminuria (McKusick 208400) is a lysosomopathy associated with aspartylglucosaminidase (L-aspartamido-beta-N-acetylglucosamine amidohydrolase, EC deficiency. It has been most frequently encountered in Finland, where the regional incidence may be as high as 1 in 3600 births. In North America it is very rare, having been reported in only 8 patients. We encountered 4 patients with aspartylglucosaminuria in a Canadian family of 12 siblings. The 4 siblings affected--2 brothers and 2 sisters--were apparently normal at birth; however, their developmental milestones, particularly speech, were slow, and they acquired only a simple vocabulary. Throughout life, there was a progressive coarsening of facial features; 3 had inguinal hernia and recurrent diarrhea; all became severely retarded and by the 4th decade showed evident deterioration of both cognitive and motor skills; 2 exhibited cyclical behavioural changes. Three of the siblings have died, at 33, 39 and 44 years of age. Two died of bronchopneumonia and 1 of asphyxiation following aspiration. In the urine of all 4 siblings, and in the 1 liver examined, we found 2-acetamido-1-N-(4-L-aspartyl)-2-deoxy-beta-D-glucosamine (GlcNAc-Asn) and alpha-D-mannose-(1,6)-beta-D-mannose-(1,4)-2-acetamido- 2-deoxy-beta-D-glucose-(1,4)-2-acetamido-1-N-(4-L-aspartyl)-2-deoxy-beta - D-glucosamine (Man2-GlcNAc2-Asn). Compared with the level of activity in controls, aspartylglucosaminidase activity was less than 2% in fibroblasts from 3 of the siblings, less than 0.5% in leukocytes from 1 sibling, and less than 1% in the liver of 1 sibling, whereas other acid hydrolase activities in these tissues were normal. Ultrastructural studies of skin showed that fibroblasts, endothelial cells and pericytes contained vacuoles with fine reticulo-floccular material. Glial and neuronal cells of the central nervous system showed similar inclusions as well as others composed of concentric or parallel membranous arrays intermingled with lipid droplets.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylglucosamine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Acetylglucosamine / urine
  • Adult
  • Aspartylglucosaminuria*
  • Aspartylglucosylaminase / genetics
  • Canada
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lysosomal Storage Diseases / genetics*
  • Lysosomal Storage Diseases / urine
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pedigree


  • Aspartylglucosylaminase
  • Acetylglucosamine