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J Inherit Metab Dis. 2009 Dec;32 Suppl 1:S289-93. doi: 10.1007/s10545-009-1224-7. Epub 2009 Nov 4.

Miglustat therapy in juvenile Sandhoff disease.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Ullevål University Hospital, Oslo and Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, 0407, Oslo, Norway.


GM(2)-gangliosidosis is a rare and heterogeneous inherited metabolic disorder caused by autosomal recessive mutations in genes encoding the lysosomal enzyme β-hexosaminidase, resulting in the accumulation of ganglioside GM(2) in various tissues, particularly the central nervous system. It is characterized by progressive neurological deterioration that mainly affects motor and spinocerebellar function. Several forms of GM(2)-gangliosidosis exist, including the Sandhoff variant. Currently there is no treatment for these conditions, except for palliative care. Miglustat (Zavesca) is a reversible inhibitor of glucosylceramide synthase, which catalyses the first committed step in the synthesis of glucose-based glycolipids. Miglustat has pharmacokinetic properties that allow it to cross the blood-brain barrier, and preclinical data suggest that it may benefit neuronopathic lysosomal storage diseases. Here we present a case report of a Norwegian patient with Sandhoff disease treated with miglustat at our centre in Norway. The patient initially presented with ataxia and dysarthria at 2-3 years of age, which progressed slowly during childhood. At age 14, he experienced episodes of depression and apathy, leading to weight loss. He was diagnosed with Sandhoff disease at age 16. Following 2.5 years of treatment with miglustat, his body weight was stabilized and disease progression appeared to have slowed, as evidenced by the lack of progressive brain atrophy. His depressive symptoms were managed using electroconvulsive treatment (ECT), which improved general functioning. These findings suggest that miglustat may provide beneficial effects in patients with juvenile Sandhoff disease, and that ECT may alleviate depressive symptoms.

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