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Identification of a distinct mutation spectrum in the SMPD1 gene of Chinese patients with acid sphingomyelinase-deficient Niemann-Pick disease

Huiwen Zhang*, Yu Wang, Zhuwen Gong, Xiaoyan Li, Wenjuan Qiu, Lianshu Han, Jun Ye and Xuefan Gu*

Author Affiliations

Department of Pediatric Endocrinology and Genetic Metabolism, Xinhua Hospital, Shanghai Institute for Pediatric Research, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Kongjiang Road 1665 #, Shanghai, 200092, China

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Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases 2013, 8:15  doi:10.1186/1750-1172-8-15

Published: 28 January 2013



Clinical observations and molecular analysis of the SMPD1 gene in Chinese patients with acid sphingomyelinase deficiency Niemann-Pick disease (NPD) are scarce.


A cohort of 27 Chinese patients diagnosed with acid sphingomyelinase deficiency, within the past five years, were collected and investigated for genotype, phenotype, and their correlations.


The majority of our patients (25/27) were under 18 years of age. From the cohort group, eight (30%) fulfilled characters of type A. Four other patients experienced neurologic involvement after two years of age, these were classified as intermediate type. The remaining fifteen presented without clear neurologic involvement and were regarded as type B. One patient, from the type B group, presented with the unusual symptom of a secondary amenorrhea. Three patients, one from the type B group and two from the intermediate group, presented with pronounced proteinuria, in the late stages of the disease, indicating possible kidney involvement in NPD. Twenty-four SMPD1 gene mutations had been identified; eighteen of these are novel ones. These included four exonic small deletions/duplications (c.4delC, c.147_150del4, c.842-849dup8, c.1307-1312dup6), one termination mutation (p.Glu248X), and thirteen exonic point mutations (p.Gly336Ser, p.Trp342Cys, p.Leu382Phe, p.Pro429Leu, p.Pro430Ser, p.Trp437Arg, p.Thr451Pro, p.His461Pro, p.Ala484Val, p.Ser486Arg, p.Tyr500His, p.Pro533Leu, p.Val559Leu). Notably, eight mutations had more than one occurrence with c.4delC and p.Glu248X accounting for ~30% of all alleles. Correlation analysis of genotype and phenotype indicated eight mutations, c.842-849dup8, p.Glu248X, p.Arg230Cys, p.Trp437Arg, p.His461Pro, p.Ala484Val p.Ser486Arg, and p.Pro533Leu,to be severe mutations. Five mutations, c.4delC, p.Leu382Phe, p.Pro429Leu, p.Pro430Ser and p.Val559Leu were projected to be mild mutations. Interestingly, three intermediate individuals carried combinations of a mild mutation, c.4delC, on one allele and a severe mutation on the other allele.


The Chinese population may have a comparably high incidence of sphingomyelinase-deficient Niemann-Pick disease type A. This study has identified some novel genotype and phenotype correlations in this rare and devastating disorder.