What Are the Mucolipidoses?
The mucolipidoses (ML) are a group of inherited metabolic diseases that affect the body’s ability to carry out the normal turnover of various materials within cells. In ML, abnormal amounts of carbohydrates and fatty materials (lipids) accumulate in cells. Because our cells are not able to handle such large amounts of these substances, damage to the cells occurs, causing symptoms that range from mild learning disabilities to severe intellectual impairment and skeletal deformities. Symptoms of ML can be congenital (present at birth) or begin in early childhood or adolescence. Early symptoms can include vision problems and developmental delays. Over time, many children with ML develop poor mental capacities, have difficulty reaching normal developmental milestones, and, in many cases, eventually die of the disease.
What Causes the Mucolipidoses?
The MLs are classified as lysosomal storage diseases because they involve increased storage of substances in the lysosomes, which are specialized sac-like components within most cells. Lysosomes play a critical role in the metabolic function of our bodies. One of their primary roles is to pick up substances such as carbohydrates and lipids and break them down into smaller molecules so that they can be used again in the metabolic process. This process is possible because lysosomes contain enzymes, which are proteins that help the body’s chemistry work better and faster.