Enzyme replacement therapy improves function of C-, Adelta-, and Abeta-nerve fibers in Fabry neuropathy

M J Hilz, M Brys, H Marthol, B Stemper, M Dütsch
Neurology 2004 April 13, 62 (7): 1066-72

BACKGROUND: Peripheral neuropathy in Fabry disease predominantly involves small nerve fibers. Recently, enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) with recombinant human alpha-galactosidase A has become available.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate whether ERT improves Fabry neuropathy.

METHODS: In 22 Fabry patients (age 27.9 +/- 8.0 years) undergoing ERT with recombinant human alpha-galactosidase A (agalsidase beta) for 18 (n = 11) or 23 (n = 11) months and in 25 control subjects (age 29.0 +/- 10.4 years), the authors performed quantitative sensory testing using the 4, 2, and 1 stepping algorithm (CASE IV). Detection thresholds of vibration (VDT) on the first toe were assessed; cold detection thresholds (CDT), heat-pain onset (HP 0.5), and intermediate heat-pain (HP 5.0) assessments were made on the dorsum of the feet. Patient values above mean + 2.5 SD of control values were considered abnormal.

RESULTS: Before ERT, VDT, CDT, HP 0.5, and HP 5.0 were higher in patients than control subjects (p < 0.05). Following ERT, patients developed lower thresholds than prior to ERT for VDT (15.5 +/- 3.5 vs 14.3 +/- 4.1; p < 0.05), HP 0.5 (22.3 +/- 6.7 vs 19.4 +/- 1.3; p < 0.01), and HP 5.0 (27.3 +/- 5.6 vs 22.5 +/- 2.3; p < 0.01). Moreover, fewer patients had abnormal results of VDT (2 vs 4), CDT (7 vs 12), HP 0.5 (0 vs 9), and HP 5.0 (4 vs 20) after than before ERT.

CONCLUSIONS: ERT therapy with agalsidase beta significantly improves function of C-, Adelta-, and Abeta-nerve fibers and intradermal vibration receptors in Fabry neuropathy. Lack of recovery in some patients with abnormal cold or heat-pain perception suggests the need for early ERT, prior to irreversible nerve fiber loss.

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