Hexosaminidase A deficiency in adults

R. Navon, Z. Argov, A. Frisch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


Deficiency of hexosaminidase A (Hex A) in adults was found in 15 individuals from nine unrelated Ashkenazi families; 14 individuals had neurological symptoms, one was clinically intact. Clinical, biochemical and genetic findings are reported and compared to previously reported cases. The clinical picture varied between and within families and included spinocerebellar, various motor neuron and cerebellar syndromes. Psychosis appeared in 30% of cases. Involvement of three generations was recorded in one family. The phenotype appears too variable to serve as a basis for genetic classification. The level of Hex A activity in serum, leukocytes, and fibroblasts of all 14 patients was in the range of Tay-Sachs disease (TSD) homozygotes when measured by the routine heart-inactivation method. More sensitive and direct method detected some residual activity. Cultured skin fibroblasts of patients synthesize the α and β chain precursors of Hex A of the same molecular weight as that synthesized by normal fibroblasts. However, the amount of the α chain precursor is greatly reduced. Mature chains were not detected. The one healthy adult we studied displayed a nonuniform distribution of Hex A; while it lacked activity in the serum it had intermediate activity in fibroblasts and leukocytes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-196
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Genetics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1986
Externally publishedYes


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