Krabbe disease (globoid cell leukodystrophy) is a lysosomal storage disease (LSD) characterized by progressive and profound demyelination. Infantile, juvenile and adult-onset forms of Krabbe disease have been described, with infantile being the most common. Children with an infantile-onset generally appear normal at birth but begin to miss developmental milestones by six months of age and die by two to four years of age. Krabbe disease is caused by a deficiency of the acid hydrolase galactosylceramidase (GALC) which is responsible for the degradation of galactosylceramides and sphingolipids, which are abundant in myelin membranes. The absence of GALC leads to the toxic accumulation of galactosylsphingosine (psychosine), a lysoderivative of galactosylceramides, in oligodendrocytes and Schwann cells resulting in demyelination of the central and peripheral nervous systems, respectively. Treatment strategies such as enzyme replacement, substrate reduction, enzyme chaperones, and gene therapy have shown promise in LSDs. Unfortunately, Krabbe disease has been relatively refractory to most single-therapy interventions. Although hematopoietic stem cell transplantation can alter the course of Krabbe disease and is the current standard-of-care, it simply slows the progression, even when initiated in pre-symptomatic children. However, the recent success of combinatorial therapeutic approaches in small animal models of Krabbe disease and the identification of new pathogenic mechanisms provide hope for the development of effective treatments for this devastating disease. This review provides a brief history of Krabbe disease and the evolution of single and combination therapeutic approaches and discusses new pathogenic mechanisms and how they might impact the development of more effective treatment strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number135841
JournalNeuroscience Letters
StatePublished - May 1 2021


  • Gene therapy
  • Globoid cell leukodystrophy
  • Krabbe disease
  • Lysosomal storage disease


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