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Anderson-Fabry disease (AFD) is an Xlinked lysosomal storage disorder of glycosphingolipid catabolism, due to deficiency or absence of a galactosidase A (α-gal A) enzyme. The disease may affect males and females, the latter with an average 10 years delay. Metabolites storage (mostly Gb3 and lyso-Gb3) leads to progressive cellular and multiorgan dysfunction, with either early and late onset variable clinical manifestations that usually reduce quality of life and life expectancy. Heart and kidney failure, stroke and sudden death are the most devastating complications. AFD is always been considered a very rare disease, although new epidemiologic data, based on newborn screening, showed that AFD prevalence is probably underestimated and much higher than previously reported, especially for late-onset atypical phenotypes. Currently, the diagnosis may be easier and simpler by evaluating α-gal A enzyme activity and genetic analysis for GLA gene mutations on dried blood spot. While a marked α-gal A deficiency leads to diagnosis of AFD in hemizygous males, the molecular analysis is mandatory in heterozygous females. However, referral to a center with an expert multidisciplinary team is highly advisable, in order to ensure careful management and treatment of patients, based also on accurate molecular and biochemical data interpretation. While long-term efficacy of enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) in advanced stage is still debated, increasing evidence shows greater efficacy of early treatment initiation. Concomitant, organ-specific therapy is also needed. New treatment approaches, such as chemical chaperone therapy, alone or in combination with ERT, are currently under investigation. The present review illustrates the major features of the disease, focusing also on biochemical and genetic aspects.
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