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Immunodefic Rev. 1990;2(3):175-98.

Adenosine deaminase deficiency.

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Department of Medicine, New York University Medical Center, NY 10016.


Inherited deficiency of the purine salvage enzyme adenosine deaminase (ADA) is responsible for approximately half the cases of autosomal recessive Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID). Deficiency of ADA can also result in a much later-onset, milder immunodeficiency, while lesser degrees of enzyme deficiency can result in either late-onset immunodeficiency or grossly normal immunologic function. The full clinical spectrum of ADA deficiency is currently being more fully defined. Florid pathology is primarily restricted to the immune system and appears to result from accumulation of substrates (adenosine and deoxyadenosine) and metabolites (deoxy ATP). Studies indicate that these metabolites may preferentially accumulate in lymphoid cells and can interfere with lymphoid proliferation and function. There is evidence for several mechanisms, including induction of chromosome breaks, inhibition of ribonucleotide reductase needed for normal DNA synthesis, and inactivation of SAH hydrolase needed for normal methylation reactions. The enzyme is a 40 Kd monomer that is ubiquitous, and diagnosis can be made with many cell types including erythrocytes, lymphocytes and fibroblasts. Prenatal diagnosis has been made with chorionic villous samples, amniotic cells and fetal blood. The gene for ADA resides on the long arm of human chromosome 20, and both the expressed and structural gene have been isolated and characterized. Most patients with ADA SCID have single base pair mutations resulting in amino acid substitutions, although a splicing mutation and a deletion have been described. The treatment of choice is currently bone-marrow transplantation from a histocompatible related donor, if available. Haploidentical transplants have also been successful but appear to have higher failure rates in ADA deficients than in other types of SCID. Enzyme replacement, now using an enzyme modified to increase the half-life and decrease immunogenicity, has been reported as successful but longer-term efficacy remains to be evaluated. The disorder, despite its rarity, is for several reasons considered a prime candidate for gene therapy. Recently success has been obtained in introducing the gene into lymphoid stem cells and achieving long-term expression.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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