The ultrastructure of skin from a patient with mucopolysaccharidosis IIID

Joseph Alroy, Margaret Z. Jones, Joseph C. Rutledge, John W. Taylor, Jennifer Toone, Derek Applegarth, John J. Hopwood

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Mucopolysaccharidosis IIID (MPS-IIID) is the rarest of the MPS-III syndromes. It is caused by deficient activity of lysosomal N-acetylglucosamine-6-sulfatase (G6S). To date, the clinical and biochemical features of seven patients with MPS-IIID have been reported, but no biopsy or autopsy findings have been described. The purpose of this report is to define the ultrastructure of affected cells seen in a skin biopsy from a 14-year-old boy. The child presented with progressive mental deterioration, hyperactivity and mild to moderate dysmorphism. The diagnosis of a mucopolysaccharidosis was suggested, but the initial urine analyses were negative for elevated mucopolysaccharides, and only the third analysis showed abnormal excretion of heparan sulfate. Because of the diagnostic difficulties posed by this case, a skin biopsy was performed for morphological and biochemical studies, Numerous vacuoles were noted in Schwann cells, fibroblasts, smooth muscle cells, eccrine gland and ductal epithelium in resin-embedded sections stained with toluidine blue. Ultrastructurally, many lysosomes were distended with abundant, fibrillar material. Occasionally, lamellated membranous structures were present within the same lysosomes. These findings are consistent with those seen in other forms of MPS, in which the lysosomal storage occurs predominantly, but not exclusively, in mesenchymal cells. Furthermore, deficient activity of G6S was confirmed in cultured skin fibroblasts. This study demonstrates that electron microscopy of skin biopsies is a useful method for identification of patients with clinical features of MPS-IIID whether or not heparan sulfaturia is present.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)210-213
Number of pages4
JournalActa Neuropathologica
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 1997


  • Mucopolysaccharidosis IIID
  • Skin
  • Ultrastructure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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