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Editor—Anderson-Fabry disease (AFD) is a sphingolipid storage disorder resulting from the deficiency of the lysosomal enzyme α-galactosidase. Unlike most other lysosomal diseases, the inheritance is X linked. Disease manifestations in female heterozygotes have been reported, but are considered to be rare and usually mild.1 Asymptomatic corneal dystrophy (cornea verticillata and posterior lenticular cataract) is present in about 70% and is useful for heterozygote detection. About 30% of women have minimal angiokeratomas and <10% have infrequent attacks of neuropathic pains.1 However, female heterozygotes with severe and early cerebrovascular disease, strokes, and renal failure have been documented, but these serious manifestations were estimated to occur in only 1%.1 Because this is an X linked disorder, these severe manifestations in females were explained by skewed X inactivation.2
Case reports are open to selection bias and there are no reported data on the frequency and severity of AFD manifestations in a large cohort of carriers. Women are not usually evaluated in the clinic unless they present with serious AFD complications, but they do attend for genetic counselling when their son or male relative is diagnosed with the disease.
During regular reviews of AFD families in the genetic clinic, we have observed multiple and more frequent AFD manifestations in female carriers than expected. Owing to the lack of clinical data and present health care policy, we were unable to perform clinical investigations. Therefore, a large cohort study using an AFD specific questionnaire was performed to establish the mortality and the frequency of all AFD manifestations in obligate carrier females.
All known (n=80) obligate carrier females, who were over the age of 18 and had demographic data recorded in the AFD register, were asked to participate in this study. Sixty (75%) agreed and provided data; non-responders were reminded on one …
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