Epidemiological, clinical and biochemical characterization of the p.(Ala359Asp) SMPD1 variant causing Niemann-Pick disease type B

Mariana Acuña, Pablo Martínez, Carol Moraga, Xingxuan He, Mauricio Moraga, Bessie Hunter, Peter Nuernberg, Rodrigo A. Gutiérrez, Mauricio González, Edward H. Schuchman, José Luis Santos, Juan Francisco Miquel, Paulina Mabe, Silvana Zanlungo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Niemann-Pick disease type B (NPDB) is a rare, inherited lysosomal storage disorder that occurs due to variants in the sphingomyelin phosphodiesterase 1 (SMPD1) gene and the resultant deficiency of acid sphingomyelinase (ASM) activity. While numerous variants causing NPDB have been described, only a small number have been studied in any detail. Herein, we describe the frequency of the p.(Ala359Asp) variant in the healthy Chilean population, and determine the haplotype background of homozygous patients to establish if this variant originated from a common founder. Genomic DNA samples from 1691 healthy individuals were analyzed for the p.(Ala359Asp) variant. The frequency of p.(Ala359Asp) was found to be 1105.7, predicting a disease incidence of 144 960 in Chile, higher than the incidence estimated by the number of confirmed NPDB cases. We also describe the clinical characteristics of 13 patients homozygous for p.(Ala359Asp) and all of them had moderate to severe NPDB disease. In addition, a conserved haplotype and shared 280 Kb region around the SMPD1 gene was observed in the patients analyzed, indicating that the variant originated from a common ancestor. The haplotype frequency and mitochondrial DNA analysis suggest an Amerindian origin for the variant. To assess the effect of the p.(Ala359Asp) variant, we transfected cells with the ASM-p.(Ala359Asp) cDNA and the activity was only 4.2% compared with the wild-type cDNA, definitively demonstrating the causative effect of the variant on ASM function. Information on common variants such as p.(Ala359Asp) is essential to guide the successful implementation for future therapies and benefit to patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)208-213
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Human Genetics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2016


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