Late-onset visceral presentation with cardiomyopathy and without neurological symptoms of adult Sanfilippo a syndrome

Johan L K Van Hove, Ron A. Wevers, Johan Van Cleemput, Philippe Moerman, Raf Sciot, Gert Matthijs, Els Schollen, Jan G N De Jong, William F. Carey, Viv Muller, Cath Nicholls, Kelly Perkins, John J. Hopwood

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24 Citations (Scopus)


Sanfilippo A syndrome, mucopolysaccharidosis type IIIA, is caused by a deficiency of heparan sulphamidase activity, and usually presents in childhood with neurodegeneration leading to death in teenage years. Visceral symptoms are limited to coarsening and diarrhea. We now describe an adult patient who presented with cardiomyopathy. At age 45 years she had hypertension, and the next year she developed a progressively worsening cardiomyopathy with prominent apical hypertrophy and atrial fibrillation. At age 53, she had severe concentric hypertrophic nonobstructive cardiomyopathy in both ventricles. There was no coarsening of features. Neurologic function, skeleton, cornea, liver, and spleen were normal. Percutaneous endomyocardial biopsy showed ballooned cardiomyocytes with storage vacuoles, containing acid mucopolysaccharides. Leucocytes, uterus, and brain biopsy did not show this storage material. There was a slight increase in total urine mucopolysaccharides, with an increased proportion of heparan sulfates. Heparan sulphamidase activity was deficient in leukocytes and heparan sulphamidase protein and activity were reduced in cultured fibroblasts. No mutations were identified after sequencing of the heparan sulphamidase gene at the cDNA and the genomic level. This new clinical presentation expands the clinical spectrum of Sanfilippo A syndrome to include a primary visceral presentation of cardiomyopathy without neurologic symptoms in the adult. The late onset may be related to the residual heparan sulphamidase activity. The genetic basis of this new variant is still unclear. Physicians evaluating adults must remain aware of possible new adult presentations of storage conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)382-387
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Genetics
Volume118 A
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 1 May 2003


  • Adult presentation
  • Cardio myopathy
  • Heparan sulphamidase
  • Muco-polysaccharidosis
  • Sanfilippo syndrome
  • Storage vacuoles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)

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