Skin ultrastructural findings in type 2 Gaucher disease: diagnostic implications

UMMS Affiliation

Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center; Lysosomal Disorders Treatment and Research Program

Publication Date


Document Type



Adolescent; Biopsy; Child; Child, Preschool; Diagnosis, Differential; Epidermis; Female; Gaucher Disease; Genetic Association Studies; Humans; Infant; Male; Microscopy, Electron; Middle Aged; Mutation, Missense; Pregnancy; Prenatal Diagnosis; Prognosis; Young Adult


Cellular and Molecular Physiology | Congenital, Hereditary, and Neonatal Diseases and Abnormalities | Molecular Genetics | Nervous System Diseases | Nutritional and Metabolic Diseases


BACKGROUND: Type 2 Gaucher disease is a rare and progressive subtype of this lysosomal storage disorder, marked by rapid, early-onset neurodegeneration. Distinguishing type 2 from types 1 and 3 Gaucher disease has remained challenging, due to the lack of a clear correlation between phenotype and enzymatic activity or genotype. beta-glucocerebrosidase, the enzyme deficient in Gaucher disease, also has an essential role in maintaining epidermal permeability function, by regulating the ratio of ceramides to glucosylceramides in the stratum corneum of the skin.

OBJECTIVES: To further assess the diagnostic utility of epidermal evaluations in distinguishing patients with type 2 Gaucher disease in an expanded cohort.

STUDY DESIGN: Epidermal samples were evaluated from twenty children with type 2, three patients with type 3 Gaucher disease and two adults with type 1 Gaucher disease with different clinical manifestations and genotypes. Electron microscopy on ruthenium tetroxide post-fixed tissue was performed.

RESULTS: Compared to controls and subjects with type 1 and type 3 Gaucher disease, only patients with type 2 Gaucher disease displayed characteristic electron dense, non-lamellar clefts and immature-lamellar membranes.

CONCLUSION: The appearance of characteristic alterations in epidermal ultrastructure provides an early and specific diagnostic tool to help in distinguishing type 2 from the other types of Gaucher disease.

DOI of Published Version



Chan A, Holleran WM, Ferguson T, Crumrine D, Goker-Alpan O, Schiffmann R, Tayebi N, Ginns EI, Elias PM, Sidransky E. Skin ultrastructural findings in type 2 Gaucher disease: diagnostic implications. Mol Genet Metab. 2011 Dec;104(4):631-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ymgme.2011.09.008. Epub 2011 Sep 16. PubMed PMID: 21982627; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3224209. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Molecular genetics and metabolism

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