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Clin Chem. 2004 Nov;50(11):1979-85. Epub 2004 Sep 13.

Immunoquantification of alpha-galactosidase: evaluation for the diagnosis of Fabry disease.

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  • 1Lysosomal Diseases Research Unit, Department of Genetic Medicine, Women's and Children's Hospital, North Adelaide, SA, Australia.



Fabry disease is an X-linked inborn error of glycosphingolipid catabolism resulting from a deficiency of the lysosomal exoglycohydrolase, alpha-galactosidase. Enzyme replacement therapy is currently available for Fabry disease, but early diagnosis before the onset of irreversible pathology will be mandatory for successful treatment. Presymptomatic detection would be possible through the use of a newborn-screening program. We report on the use of sensitive assays for the measurement of alpha-galactosidase protein and activity and for the protein saposin C, which are diagnostic markers for Fabry disease.


Two sensitive immunoassays for the measurement of alpha-galactosidase activity and protein were used to determine the concentrations of alpha-galactosidase in dried filter-paper blood spots and plasma samples from control patients and patients with a lysosomal storage disorder (LSD).


Fabry hemizygous individuals were clearly identified from control populations by decreases in both alpha-galactosidase activity and protein. Fabry heterozygotes generally fell between the hemizygotes and controls. Including the measurement of saposin C enabled differentiation between Fabry heterozygotes and controls. In blood spots, all Fabry individuals could be distinguished from control blood spots as well as from 16 other LSD patients.


The determination of alpha-galactosidase activity or protein in dried filter-paper blood spots could be used for the diagnosis of Fabry patients. With further validation, these assays could be used for the identification of Fabry patients in newborn-screening programs and may also be suitable for screening high-risk populations.

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