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G Ital Nefrol. 2005 Jul-Aug;22(4):385-9.

[Fabry nephropathy in a female with superposed IgA glomerulonephritis].

[Article in Italian]

Author information

  • 1Universita' Federico II di Napoli, Naples.



In Anderson-Fabry disease (AFd), the kidney is affected in all hemizygous males and in some heterozygous females. Female carriers can present subtle renal abnormalities due to glycosphingolipid (GSL) accumulation within renal cells. Renal biopsy is rarely performed in female Fabry patients because clinical renal manifestations are usually lacking. However, female carriers can accumulate GSL in their renal cells despite the absence of clinically evident kidney disease.


We performed a kidney biopsy in a 52-year-old female patient, a Fabry disease carrier. The patient showed normal glomerular filtration rate, persistent microhematuria and proteinuria (about 1.7 g/24 hr), cornea "verticillata", and evident left ventricular hypertrophy. The molecular study documented a missense mutation R227Q in exon 5 of the alpha-galactosidase A gene. Optical microscopy showed electron-dense mesangial deposits due IgA glomerulonephritis, as confirmed by immunofluorescence. We decided to start therapy with angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE-I). After 8 months of treatment, the patient demonstrated proteinuria of 0.9 g/24 hr. To decide when to start treatment using enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) with human recombinant GAL A (Fabrazyme), we decided to perform an electron microscopy study of the renal biopsy. The renal ultrastructural findings were typical GSL inclusions in all kinds of glomerular cells, in tubular epithelial cells and in endothelial cells of interstitial capillaries, confirming the hypothesis of Fabry nephropathy. Consequently, Fabrazyme was given at a standard dose of 1 mg/kg every 2 weeks. After 24 months of combined treatment (ACE-I-Fabrazyme), proteinuria decreased to 0.2 g/24 hr.


The importance of performing the ultrastructural examination of the kidney biopsy is stressed, especially in heterozygous Fabry patients to evaluate the need to treat them with ERT and to evaluate the degree of renal involvement.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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