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Mod Pathol. 2005 May;18(5):733-8.

Chloroquine-induced lipidosis mimicking Fabry disease.

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  • 1Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, CA 90048, USA.


Intracellular accumulation of phospholipids may be a consequence of inherited or acquired metabolic disorders. In Fabry disease, deficiency of alpha-galactosidase A results in storage of globotriasylceramide in numerous cells including endothelium, striated muscle (skeletal, cardiac), smooth muscle, and renal epithelium among others; the ultrastructural appearance of the inclusions is of whorled layers of alternating dense and pale material ('zebra bodies' or myeline figures). Chloroquine therapy may result in storage of biochemically and ultrastructurally similar inclusions in many of the same cells as Fabry disease and often results in similar clinical manifestations. We report a 56-year-old woman with rheumatoid arthritis treated with chloroquine, who developed muscle weakness and renal insufficiency; information regarding therapy was not emphasized at the time of renal biopsy, leading to initial erroneous interpretation of Fabry disease. Following muscle biopsy, genetic and enzyme evaluation, and additional studies on the kidney biopsy, a diagnosis of chloroquine toxicity was established. One year following cessation of chloroquine, renal and muscle dysfunction greatly improved. In chloroquine toxicity, inclusions in glomeruli are not only in visceral epithelial, endothelial and mesangial cells but are in infiltrating monocytes/macrophages, which are most commonly present in the mesangium. Curvilinear bodies, the ultrastructural features of chloroquine toxicity in striated muscle, are not present in renal cells. This report documents differences in appearance, cells affected and morphological differential diagnostic features to distinguish these two entities.

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