Marked variation in blood beta-hexosaminidase in Gaucher disease
Gaucher disease is due to a primary deficiency of acid beta-glucosidase activity and is associated with secondary elevations of several plasma/serum lysosomal enzyme activities, including beta-hexosaminidase. We analyzed plasma and serum beta-hexosaminidase A & B activities in 55 patients with enzyme-documented Gaucher disease. The mean beta-hexosaminidase activity was increased and the percent of the A isozyme decreased, consistent with earlier studies. Gaucher disease patients had 2,067 +/- 1,491 nmol ml-1 h-1 units of beta-hexosaminidase activity with 51.9 +/- 15.5% beta-hexosaminidase A compared to 1,086 +/- 260 nmol ml-1 h-1 and 67.8 +/- 4.0% beta-hexosaminidase A in normal controls and 965 +/- 261 nmol ml-1 h-1 and 43.6 +/- 5.5% beta-hexosaminidase A in Tay-Sachs disease heterozygotes. Contrary to previous reports, marked heterogeneity of both total plasma/serum enzyme activity and isozyme pattern was noted, as some patients had normal enzyme levels and others had severe reductions in the percent of hexosaminidase A. These data argue against the suggestions of recent studies that routine serum beta-hexosaminidase testing done in Tay-Sachs disease heterozygote detection programs can be effectively used to screen for patients with Gaucher disease.