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Niemann Pick Disease

Abstract

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Synonyms of Niemann Pick Disease

  • DAF syndrome
  • juvenile dystonic lipidosis
  • lipid histiocytosis
  • lipidosis, sphingomyelin
  • NPD
  • sphingomyelinase deficiency

Disorder Subdivisions

  • Nieman Pick disease Type A (acute neuronopathic form)
  • Nieman Pick disease Type B
  • Nieman Pick disease Type C (chronic neuronopathic form)
  • Nieman Pick disease Type D (Nova Scotia variant)
  • Nieman Pick disease Type E
  • Nieman Pick disease Type F (sea-blue histiocyte disease)

General Discussion

Niemann-Pick disease (NPD) is a group of rare inherited disorders of fat metabolism. At least five types of Niemann-Pick disease have been identified (NPD types A, B, C, D, and E). Symptoms of types A and B occur as a result of a deficiency of the enzyme acid sphingomyelinase (ASM), which is needed to break down sphingomyelin, a fatty substance found mostly in the brain and nervous system. This deficiency results in abnormal accumulation of excessive amounts of sphingomyelin in many organs of the body such as the liver, spleen, and brain. Symptoms of type C occur because of impaired trafficking of large molecules within cells, which results in the accumulation of excessive amounts of cholesterol and other lipids (glycosphingolipids) tissues throughout the body. The metabolic defect in type C can lead to a secondary reduction in ASM activity in some cells.

The division of Niemann Pick disease into groups A, B, C and D was proposed by Allan Crocker in 1961 after he and Sidney Farber had expanded the category of Niemann-Pick disease by applying the diagnosis to all patients with "foam cells" and lipid storage in the tissues. This had led to the inclusion of older and less severely affected people than those originally described by Niemann and Pick.

Symptoms common to all types of Niemann-Pick disease include yellow discoloration of the skin, eyes, and/or mucous membranes (jaundice), progressive loss of motor skills, feeding difficulties, learning disabilities, and an abnormally enlarged liver and/or spleen (hepatosplenomegaly). The different types of Niemann-Pick disease are inherited as autosomal recessive traits.

Niemann Pick Disease Resources

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