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Pediatr Res. 1996 Jan;39(1):134-41.

Epidermal abnormalities may distinguish type 2 from type 1 and type 3 of Gaucher disease.

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  • 1Clinical Neuroscience Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-4405, USA.


A major clinical challenge in Gaucher disease is the early and presymptomatic discrimination of type 2 (acute neuronopathic) from milder type 1 and type 3 Gaucher patients to enable appropriate management and counseling. Although most patients with Gaucher disease do not have skin abnormalities, a subset of patients with severe type 2 Gaucher disease display ichthyosiform skin. Analogous findings occur in the skin of type 2 (null allele) Gaucher mice. Ultrastructural and functional studies of epidermis from these mice reveal that glucocerebrosidase is required to generate functionally competent membranes for normal epidermal barrier function. We have extended our studies by examining the epidermal lipid content and ultrastructure in all three types of Gaucher patients. Only the type 2 Gaucher patients, some of whom had clinical ichthyosis, demonstrated an increased ratio of epidermal glucosylceramide to ceramide as well as extensive ultrastructural abnormalities, including the persistence of incompletely processed lamellar body-derived contents throughout the stratum corneum interstices. These epidermal alterations may provide a means for early differentiation of type 2 Gaucher disease.

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