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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2006 (2006), Article ID 78549, 6 pages
Review Article

Gaucher Disease and the Synucleinopathies

Section on Molecular Neurogenetics, Medical Genetics Branch, National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-3708, USA

Received 12 December 2005; Revised 5 March 2006; Accepted 15 March 2006

Copyright © 2006 Kathleen S. Hruska et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Several recent observations suggest a connection between Gaucher disease, the inherited deficiency of glucocerebrosidase, and the synucleinopathies. Rare patients have been observed who develop both Gaucher disease and parkinsonism. Autopsy studies on these subjects reveal synuclein-positive Lewy bodies and inclusions. An increased incidence of synucleinopathies also has been noted in relatives of Gaucher probands. In complementary studies, screening of patients with parkinsonism has identified a greater than expected frequency of glucocerebrosidase mutations. These glucocerebrosidase mutation carriers have a wide spectrum of associated parkinsonian phenotypes, ranging from classic L-dopa-responsive Parkinson disease to a phenotype more characteristic of Lewy body dementia. Despite this association, the vast majority of Gaucher carriers and patients with Gaucher disease never develop parkinsonism. However, mutations in this gene are likely to be a contributing risk factor in subjects otherwise prone to developing synucleinopathies.