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Prevalence of cerebral small vessel disease in a Fabry disease cohort.



To characterize the prevalence of brain ischemia and cerebral small vessel disease in a cohort of patients with Fabry disease (FD) seen at an academic medical center.


FD is an inherited X-linked lysosomal storage disorder with central nervous system involvement. Limited data are available in the literature on the cerebrovascular neuroimaging findings in FD, and the reported prevalence of stroke symptoms and cerebral small vessel disease has varied widely.


Brain MRI was performed in 21 patients with FD followed at University of California Irvine Medical Center. Stroke symptoms were assessed and quantification of cerebral microvascular disease was performed using small vessel disease (SVD) score. Lacunes and deep white matter hyperintensities were scored on a four-point scale of 0 (absent) and 1-3 to account for increasing severity; microbleeds were scored 0 (absent) or 1 (present). The total SVD score is the sum of the three components and ranges from 0 to 7.


Nearly 43% (9/21) of our FD cohort (aged 32-81 years, mean = 50) had a SVD score of one or higher, all of whom were aged 50 or more years. The most common MRI-defined SVD was white matter hyperintensities (9/9, 100%), followed by microbleeds (6/9, 66%), and lacunes (3/9, 33%). The three patients with previous strokes had some of the highest SVD scores reported in the cohort (scores 3-5).


In this cohort, the prevalence of SVD (43%) was three times higher than prevalence of stroke symptoms. SVD score was highest in the those who had experienced a stroke. These findings emphasize the importance of routine MRI screening of patients with FD in order to identify and treat high risk patients.

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