Gene Mutations Versus Clinically Relevant Phenotypes: Lyso-Gb3 Defines Fabry Disease

Circ Cardiovasc Genet. 2014;7:8-16.

Background: Currently, no method is available to identify α-galactosidase A (agalA) mutations determining clinically relevant Fabry disease. In our largest European Fabry cohort, we investigated whether a biomarker, specific for the defect, could stratify persons at risk.

Methods and Results: A total of 124 individuals with agalA mutations were investigated with a comprehensive clinical workup, genetic analysis, and laboratory testing, including measurements of agalA activity and lyso-Gb3 (degradation product of the accumulating Gb3). Additionally, an extensive family screening with a clinical workup of relatives was performed. The patient population was divided into 2 samples: previously described mutations (n=72) and novel mutations (n=52). The patients with previously described mutations were subdivided into 2 groups: classical mutations, which were known to cause the classic type of Fabry disease with specific symptoms and a high risk for major events in all 3 main organs (heart, kidney, and central nervous system), and atypical mutations without the typical presentation. All patients with atypical mutations (n=17) had lower lyso-Gb3 levels than any of the patients with classical Fabry disease (n=55). A cutoff value of 2.7 ng/mL separated the 2 groups. Six out of 52 patients with novel mutations showed a lyso-Gb3 level <2.7 ng/mL. Clinical investigation, blinded to lyso-Gb3 results, revealed no classic organ involvement in these patients or their relatives. In contrast, the characterization of patients with lyso-Gb3≥2.7ng/mL suggested classical Fabry mutations in most of the patients (93%).

Conclusions: Our data show that the biomarker lyso-Gb3 may identify the clinically relevant agalA mutations leading to Fabry disease.


  • Markus Niemann , MD
  • Prof. Arndt Rolfs , MD
  • Stefan Störk , MD PhD
  • Bart Bijnens , PhD
  • Frank Breunig , MD
  • Prof. Meinrad Beer , MD
  • Georg Ertl , MD
  • Christoph Wanner , MD