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Children's Health

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Fabry Disease

It is possible that the main title of the report Fabry 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.


  • alpha-galactosidase A deficiency
  • Anderson-Fabry disease
  • angiokeratoma corporis diffusum
  • angiokeratoma diffuse
  • ceramide trihexosidase deficiency
  • GLA deficiency
  • hereditary dystopic lipidosis

Disorder Subdivisions

  • classical
  • later-onset

General Discussion

Fabry disease is a rare genetic disorder of fat (lipid) metabolism characterized by a deficiency of the enzyme alpha-galactosidase A (previously known as ceramide trihexosidase). The disorder belongs to a group of diseases known as lysosomal storage disorders. Lysosomes function as the primary digestive units within cells. Enzymes within lysosomes break down or digest particular compounds and intracellular structures. Alpha-galactosidase functions to remove the terminal galactose moieties from complex sugary-fat molecules termed glycosphingolipids. Absence or less than 1% of the alpha-galactosidase A enzyme results in the classic subtype of Fabry disease due to the abnormal accumulation of a specific sugary-fat material (termed globotriaosylceramide, GL-3 or Gb3) in various organs of the body, particularly in the blood vessels. Symptoms of classic Fabry disease typically include onset in childhood or adolescence, the appearance of clusters of rash-like discolorations on the skin (angiokeratomas), excruciating pain in the hands and feet, and abdominal pain, absent or markedly decreased sweating (anhidrosis or hypohidrosis), and specific changes in the cornea of the eye (corneal dystrophy) that do not affect vision. Later in the course of the disease, kidney failure, heart disease, and/or strokes cause life-threatening complications.

Individuals with alpha-galactosidase A levels greater than 1% of normal have a somewhat milder or attenuated, later-onset subtype of the disease, and typically do not have the early-onset symptoms including the skin lesions, eye changes, decreased sweating, and pain in the extremities. They develop kidney, heart, or cerebrovascular (i.e., stroke) disease in adult life.

Fabry disease, which is inherited as an X-linked trait, affects males and females. Males are more uniformly affected whereas females have variable affects and may be asymptomatic or as severely affected as males.


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

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

International Center for Fabry Disease
Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Fifth Avenue at 100th Street
New York, NY 10029
Tel: (212)659-6700
Tel: (866)322-7963

NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
P.O. Box 5801
Bethesda, MD 20824
Tel: (301)496-5751
Fax: (301)402-2186
Tel: (800)352-9424
TDD: (301)468-5981

Canadian Society for Mucopolysaccharide and Related Diseases, Inc.
PO Box 30034
RPO Parkgate
North Vancouver
British Columbia, V7H 2Y8
Tel: 6049245130
Fax: 6049245131
Tel: 8006671846

Fabry Support & Information Group
108 NE 2nd Street
Suite C
P.O. Box 510
Concordia, MO 64020-0510
Tel: (660)463-1355
Fax: (660)463-1356

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

Instituto de Errores Innatos del Metabolismo
Carrera 7 No 40 - 62
Tel: 5713208320

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

National Fabry Disease Foundation
4301 Connecticut Ave. N.W., Suite 404
Washington, DC 20008-2369
Fax: (800)651-9135
Tel: (800)651-9131

Proyecto Pide un Deseo México, i.a.p.
Altadena #59-501 col. Napoles
delegacion Benito Juarez
03810 Mexico D.F.
Tel: 55 5543-2447
Fax: 55-5543-5450

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: 10/24/2012
Copyright 1986, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 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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