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Fabry’s disease is an X-linked disorder, caused by a deficiency of the lysosomal enzyme α-galactosidase A which results in the accumulation of the glycosphingolipid, ceramide trihexose in the vascular endothelium and can lead to cerebral infarction. Male hemizygotes are generally more severely affected than heterozygote females. Clinical disease in females is thought to be due to unequal X chromosome inactivation.
A 19-year-old woman, who was previously well, presented with neurological deficits secondary to basal ganglia and pontine infarction. Extensive cardiac, arterial and hematologic investigations did not identify the etiology of her stroke. Muscle biopsy revealed endothelial lysosomal aggregates most consistent with a diagnosis of Fabry’s disease. The diagnosis was confirmed on the basis of molecular genotype analysis.
Inherited causes of stroke such as Fabry’s disease should be considered in young patients with stroke if an etiologic diagnosis is not reached after complete investigations. Muscle biopsy can assist with the diagnosis and guide further investigations. This report summarizes the biochemical and histological features of Fabry’s disease and the associated genetic abnormalities.
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