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Wolman Disease

It is possible that the main title of the report Wolman Disease is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.


  • Acid Cholesteryl Ester Hydrolase Deficiency, Wolman Type
  • Lysosomal Acid Lipase Deficiency, Wolman Type

Disorder Subdivisions

  • None

General Discussion

Wolman disease is a rare genetic disorder characterized by complete absence of an enzyme known as lysosomal acid lipase (LIPA or LAL). This enzyme is required to breakdown (metabolize) certain fats (lipids) in the body. Without the LIPA enzyme, certain fats may abnormally accumulate in the tissues and organs of the body causing a variety of symptoms. Wolman disease may cause bloating or swelling of the stomach (abdominal distention), vomiting, and significant enlargement of the liver or spleen (hepatosplenomegaly). Life-threatening complications often develop during early childhood. Wolman disease is caused by mutations of the lysosomal acid lipase (LIPA) gene. The disorder is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait.

Wolman disease is the most severe expression of LIPA deficiency. Milder forms of the disorder are known as cholesteryl ester storage deficiency (see the Related Disorders section of this report). Wolman disease belongs to a group of diseases known as lysosomal storage disorders. Lysosomes are particles bound in membranes within cells that break down certain fats and carbohydrates. Defective lysosomal enzymes associated with Wolman disease leads to the accumulation of certain fatty substances (mucolipids) and certain complex carbohydrates (mucopolysaccharides) within the cells of many tissues of the body.


CLIMB (Children Living with Inherited Metabolic Diseases)
Climb Building
176 Nantwich Road
Crewe, CW2 6BG
United Kingdom
Tel: 4408452412173
Fax: 4408452412174

Vaincre Les Maladies Lysosomales
2 Ter Avenue
Massy, 91300
Tel: 0169754030
Fax: 0160111583

National Tay-Sachs and Allied Diseases Association, Inc.
2001 Beacon Street
Brookline, MA 02146-4227
Tel: (617)277-4463
Fax: (617)277-0134
Tel: (800)906-8723

March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation
1275 Mamaroneck Avenue
White Plains, NY 10605
Tel: (914)997-4488
Fax: (914)997-4763
Tel: (888)663-4637

The Arc
1825 K Street NW, Suite 1200
Washington, DC 20006
Tel: (202)534-3700
Fax: (202)534-3731
Tel: (800)433-5255
TDD: (817)277-0553

Children's Liver Disease Foundation
36 Great Charles Street
Birmingham, B3 3JY
United Kingdom
Tel: 01212123839
Fax: 01212124300

Lysosomal Diseases New Zealand
16 Woodleigh Place
Tauranga, 6008
New Zealand
Tel: 075448868

Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center
PO Box 8126
Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126
Tel: (301)251-4925
Fax: (301)251-4911
Tel: (888)205-2311
TDD: (888)205-3223

Madisons Foundation
PO Box 241956
Los Angeles, CA 90024
Tel: (310)264-0826
Fax: (310)264-4766

Hide & Seek Foundation for Lysosomal Disease Research
6475 East Pacific Coast Highway Suite 466
Long Beach, CA 90803
Tel: (877)621-1122
Fax: (866)215-8850

LAL Solace, Inc.
191 Barnstable Court
Harvest, AL 35749
Tel: (256)425-2638

For a Complete Report:

This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). A copy of the complete report can be downloaded free from the NORD website for registered users. The complete report contains additional information including symptoms, causes, affected population, related disorders, standard and investigational therapies (if available), and references from medical literature. For a full-text version of this topic, go to and click on Rare Disease Database under "Rare Disease Information".

The information provided in this report is not intended for diagnostic purposes. It is provided for informational purposes only. NORD recommends that affected individuals seek the advice or counsel of their own personal physicians.

It is possible that the title of this topic is not the name you selected. Please check the Synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and Disorder Subdivision(s) covered by this report

This disease entry is based upon medical information available through the date at the end of the topic. Since NORD's resources are limited, it is not possible to keep every entry in the Rare Disease Database completely current and accurate. Please check with the agencies listed in the Resources section for the most current information about this disorder.

For additional information and assistance about rare disorders, please contact the National Organization for Rare Disorders at P.O. Box 1968, Danbury, CT 06813-1968; phone (203) 744-0100; web site or email

Last Updated: 1/5/2012
Copyright 2009, 2012 National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

WebMD Medical Reference from the National Organization for Rare Disorders

Last Updated: May 28, 2015
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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