Angiokeratoma: Decision-making aid for the diagnosis of Fabry disease

A. Zampetti, C. H. Orteu, D. Antuzzi, M. R. Bongiorno, S. Manco, M. Gnarra, A. Morrone, G. Cardinali, D. Kovacs, N. Aspite, D. Linder, R. Parini, C. Feliciani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Isolated angiokeratomas are common benign cutaneous lesions, generally deemed unworthy of further investigation. In contrast, diffuse angiokeratomas should alert the physician to a possible diagnosis of Fabry disease, a rare X-linked lysosomal storage disorder, characterized by α-galactosidase deficiency. Glycosphingolipids accumulate in cells throughout the body resulting in progressive multi-organ failure. Difficulties are encountered when trying to interpret the significance of angiokeratomas because they may also occur in other lysosomal storage disorders and rarely in an isolated manner in Fabry disease. We present an algorithm for the classification of angiokeratomas which might prove useful for the diagnosis and management of Fabry disease. Assessment of the clinical features and location of the lesions, personal and family history, skin biopsy, dermoscopy and electron microscopy imaging are sequential steps in the diagnostic process. Assessing the deficiency of α-galactosidase enzyme activity is essential to confirm the diagnosis in males, while mutation analysis is always needed in females. Potentially this algorithm can change the current approach to patients when Fabry disease is suspected, thus improving the diagnostic strategy and management of this disorder. It remains to be decided whether the use of an algorithm might reduce the number of genetic consultations. As evidence has shown the efficacy of enzyme replacement therapy in halting progression of the disease before the onset of irreversible organ damage, it is advisable to aim at an early diagnosis in order to achieve timely initiation of effective treatment with benefits for patients and appropriate use of medical resources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)712-720
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of Dermatology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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