Lysosomal storage disorders: Molecular basis and laboratory testing

Mirella Filocamo, Amelia Morrone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lysosomal storage disorders (LSDs) are a large group of more than 50 different inherited metabolic diseases which, in the great majority of cases, result from the defective function of specific lysosomal enzymes and, in few cases, of non-enzymatic lysosomal proteins or non-lysosomal proteins involved in lysosomal biogenesis. The progressive lysosomal accumulation of undegraded metabolites results in generalised cell and tissue dysfunction, and, therefore, multi-systemic pathology. Storage may begin during early embryonic development, and the clinical presentation for LSDs can vary from an early and severe phenotype to late-onset mild disease. The diagnosis of most LSDs-after accurate clinical/paraclinical evaluation, including the analysis of some urinary metabolites-is based mainly on the detection of a specific enzymatic deficiency. In these cases, molecular genetic testing (MGT) can refine the enzymatic diagnosis. Once the genotype of an individual LSD patient has been ascertained, genetic counselling should include prediction of the possible phenotype and the identification of carriers in the family at risk. MGT is essential for the identification of genetic disorders resulting from non-enzymatic lysosomal protein defects and is complementary to biochemical genetic testing (BGT) in complex situations, such as in cases of enzymatic pseudodeficiencies. Prenatal diagnosis is performed on the most appropriate samples, which include fresh or cultured chorionic villus sampling or cultured amniotic fluid. The choice of the test-enzymatic and/or molecular-is based on the characteristics of the defect to be investigated. For prenatal MGT, the genotype of the family index case must be known. The availability of both tests, enzymatic and molecular, enormously increases the reliability of the entire prenatal diagnostic procedure. To conclude, BGT and MGT are mostly complementary for post- and prenatal diagnosis of LSDs. Whenever genotype/phenotype correlations are available, they can be helpful in predicting prognosis and in making decisions about therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-169
Number of pages14
JournalHuman Genomics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Drug Discovery
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Molecular Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Lysosomal storage disorders: Molecular basis and laboratory testing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this