Fabry disease is a rare X-linked disorder, characterized by deficient activity of the lysosomal enzyme α-galactosidase A. This leads to systemic accumulation of the glycosphingolipid globotriaosylceramide (Gb3) in all body tissues and organs, including the kidney. Renal manifestations are less evident in female heterozygotes than in male hemizygotes, according to the Lyon hypothesis. Accumulation of Gb3 occurs mainly in the epithelial cells of Henle's loop and distal tubule, inducing early impairment in renal concentrating ability; involvement of the proximal tubule induces Fanconi syndrome. All types of glomerular cells are involved, especially podocytes, and glomerular proteinuria may occur at a young age. The evolution of renal Fabry disease is characterized by progressive deterioration of renal function to end-stage renal failure (ESRF). Ultrastructural study of kidney biopsies reveals typical bodies in the cytoplasm of all types of renal cells, characterized by concentric lamellation of clear and dark layers with a periodicity of 35-50 Å. Management of progressive renal disease requires dietetic and therapeutic strategies, usually indicated in developing chronic renal failure, with dialysis and renal transplantation required for patients with ESRF. The recent development of enzyme replacement therapy, however, should make it possible to prevent or reverse the progressive renal dysfunction associated with Fabry disease.
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