Atherosclerosis in Fabry disease—a contemporary review

Ashwin Roy, Hamza Umar, Antonio Ochoa-ferraro, Adrian Warfield, Nigel Lewis, Tarekegn Geberhiwot, Richard Steeds

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Fabry disease (FD) is a lysosomal storage disorder characterised by a deficiency in the enzyme α-galactosidase A resulting in sphingolipid deposition which causes progressive cardiac, renal, and cerebral manifestations. The case illustrates a patient with FD who died suddenly, and medical examination demonstrated myocardial scarring and prior infarction. Angina is a frequent symptom in FD. Our own data are consistent with registry data indicating a high prevalence of risk factors for coronary artery disease (CAD) in FD that may accelerate conventional atherosclerosis. Patients with FD also have a higher high-density lipoprotein (HDL)/total cholesterol (T-Chol) ratio which may further accelerate atherosclerosis through expression of early atherosclerotic markers. Patients with FD may develop CAD both via classical atherosclerosis and through formation of thickened fibrocellular intima containing fibroblasts with storage of sphingolipids. Both mechanisms occurring together may accelerate coronary stenosis, as well as alter myocardial blood flow. Our data supports limited data that, although coronary flow may be reduced, the prevalence of epicardial coronary stenosis is low in FD. Microvascular dysfunction and arterial wall stress from sphingolipid deposition may form reactive oxygen species (ROS) and myeloperoxidase (MPO), key atherosclerotic mediators. Reduced myocardial blood flow in FD has also been demonstrated using numerous imaging modalities suggesting perfusion mismatch. This review describes the above mechanisms in detail, highlighting the importance of modifying cardiovascular risk factors in FD patients who likely develop accelerated atherosclerosis compared to the general population.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4422
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sept 2021


  • Fabry
  • atherosclerosis
  • ischaemia
  • perfusion
  • angina


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