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Krabbe disease

Cerebral Lipidoses

by Alexander Kurz

General outline

Krabbe disease is an autosomal recessive disorder involving the white matter of the central and peripheral nervous system. The disease is caused by a deficiency of the enzyme beta-galactocerebrosidase. While most patients develop the disease within the first 6 months of life, others develop the disease later in life, including in adulthood.


Globoid cell leukodystrophy

Symptoms and course

Adults patients may show unsteadiness of gait, weakness of the legs postural tremor, limb paresis, and hyperreflexia.

Causes and risk factors

The major biochemical defect is a deficiency of the enzyme beta-galactocerebrosidase beta-galatosidase caused by mutations in the gene encoding the enzyme (14q31).

Diagnostic procedures

The MRI may demonstrate changes of demyelination in the white matter of the brain, while nerve conduction can be normal. The diagnosis is established by demonstrating the deficiency of galactosylceramide beta-galactosidase in serum, white blood cells and fibroblasts. Skin biopsy shows typical sprage of galactocerebroside in globoid cells, in eccrise galnds, and in Schwann cells.

Care and treatment

Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation has been tried in Krabbe disease with positive results.

Available services

Neurology and pediatrics departments.


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Last Updated: Friday 09 October 2009