Molecular genetics and metabolism

Glucosylsphingosine accumulation in tissues from patients with Gaucher disease: correlation with phenotype and genotype.

PMID 12208131


Gaucher disease, the inherited deficiency of lysosomal glucocerebrosidase, presents with a wide spectrum of clinical manifestations including neuronopathic and non-neuronopathic forms. While the lipid glucosylceramide is stored in both patients with Gaucher disease and in a null allele mouse model of Gaucher disease, elevated levels of a second potentially toxic substrate, glucosylsphingosine, are also found. Using high performance liquid chromatography, glucosylsphingosine levels were measured in tissues from patients with type 1, 2, and 3 Gaucher disease. Glucosylsphingosine was measured in 16 spleen samples (8 type 1; 4 type 2; and 4, type 3) and levels ranged from 54 to 728 ng/mg protein in the patients with type 1 disease, 133 to 1200 ng/mg protein in the patients with type 2, and 109 to 1298 ng/mg protein in the type 3 samples. The levels of splenic glucosylsphingosine bore no relation to the type of Gaucher disease, the age of the patient, the genotype, nor the clinical course. In the same patients, hepatic glucosylsphingosine levels were lower than in spleen. Glucosylsphingosine was also measured in brains from 13 patients (1 type 1; 8 type 2; and 4 type 3). While the glucosylsphingosine level in the brain from the type 1 patient, 1.0 ng/mg protein, was in the normal range, the levels in the type 3 samples ranged from 14 to 32 ng/mg protein, and in the type 2 samples from 24 to 437 ng/mg protein, with the highest values detected in two fetuses with hydrops fetalis. The elevated levels found in brains from patients with neuronopathic Gaucher disease support the hypothesis that glucosylsphingosine may contribute to the nervous system involvement in these patients.