Sphingolipids in Disease

Volume 216 of the series Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology pp 405-419


Neuronal Forms of Gaucher Disease

  • Einat B. VitnerAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Chemistry, Weizmann Institute of Science
  • , Anthony H. FutermanAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Chemistry, Weizmann Institute of Science Email author 

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Gaucher disease is an inherited metabolic disease caused by the defective activity of the lysosomal enzyme, glucosylceramidase (GlcCerase), which is responsible for the last step in the degradation of complex glycosphingolipids. As a result, glucosylceramide (GlcCer) accumulates intracellularly. Little is known about the mechanisms by which GlcCer accumulation leads to Gaucher disease, particularly for the types of the disease in which severe neuropathology occurs. We now summarize recent advances in this area and in particular focus in the biochemical and cellular pathways that may cause neuronal defects. Most recent work has taken advantage of newly available mouse models, which mimic to a large extent human disease progression. Finally, we discuss observations of a genetic link between Gaucher disease and Parkinson’s disease and discuss how this link has stimulated research into the basic biology of the previously underappreciated glycosphingolipid, GlcCer.


Gaucher disease Glucosylceramidase Glucosylceramide Neurodegeneration