Mucopolysaccharidoses are a group of metabolic disorders caused by the absence or malfunctioning of lysosomal enzymes needed to break down molecules called glycosaminoglycans. These long chains of sugar carbohydrates occur in each of our cells that help build bone, cartilage, tendons, corneas, skin and connective tissue. Glycosaminoglycans (formerly called mucopolysaccharides) are also found in the fluid that lubricates our joints.
People with a mucopolysaccharidosis either do not produce enough of one of the 11 enzymes required to break down these sugar chains into simpler molecules, or they produce enzymes that do not work properly.
People with a mucopolysaccharidosis either do not produce enough of one of the 11 enzymes required to break down these sugar chains into simpler molecules, or they produce enzymes that do not work properly. Over time, these glycosaminoglycans collect in the cells, blood and connective tissues. The result is permanent, progressive cellular damage which affects appearance, physical abilities, organ and system functioning, and, in most cases, mental development.
The mucopolysaccharidoses are part of the lysosomal storage disease family, a group of more than 40 genetic disorders that result when a specific organelle in our bodies' cells – the lysosome – malfunctions. The lysosome is commonly referred to as the cell’s recycling center because it processes unwanted material into substances that the cell can utilize. Lysosomes break down this unwanted matter via enzymes, highly specialized proteins essential for survival. Lysosomal disorders like mucopolysaccharidosis are triggered when a particular enzyme exists in too small an amount or is missing altogether