Mucopolysaccharidosis IVA (MPS IVA; Morquio A disease) is an autosomal recessive lysosomal storage disorder caused by a genetic deficiency of the N-acetylgalactosamine-6-sulfate sulfatase (GALNS; E.C.22.214.171.124). GALNS is required to degrade keratan sulfate (KS) and chondroitine-6-sulfate (C6S). The accumulation of undegraded substrates in lysosomes of the affected tissues leads to a systemic bone dysplasia. Total urine glycosaminoglycans (GAG) in patients with MPS IVA are close to the normal range so it is difficult to distinguish this disease based on urine GAG excretion. Another potential disease marker could be KS levels in urine and plasma. Although the enzymatic diagnosis of affected patients with MPS IVA can be made, the detection of obligate heterozygotes by enzymatic measurement is less reliable because of a marked overlap of GALNS in fibroblasts or leucocytes from affected phenotype and normal controls. The genetic heterozygoty of MPS IVA has been facilitated by the isolation and characterization of the full lengh cDNA encoding human GALNS. Conventional therapy is symptomatic and limited to palliative procedures, which have virtually no impact upon mortality. To date, there is still no general consensus about the effectiveness of bone marrow transplantation. In the future, gene therapy could represent a great therapeutic improvement.
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