Neurological forms of Gaucher disease, the inherited disorder of β-Glucosylceramidase caused by bi-allelic variants in GBA1, is a progressive disorder which lacks a disease-modifying therapy. Systemic manifestations of disease are effectively treated with Enzyme Replacement Therapy (ERT), however, molecules which cross the blood-brain barrier are still under investigation. Clinical trials of such therapeutics require robust, reproducible clinical endpoints to demonstrate efficacy and clear phenotypic definitions to identify suitable patients for inclusion in trials.
The single consistent clinical feature in all patients with neuronopathic disease is the presence of a supranuclear saccadic gaze palsy, in the presence of Gaucher disease this finding serves as diagnostic of ‘type 3’ Gaucher disease.
We undertook a study to evaluate saccadic eye movements in Gaucher patients and to assess the role of the EyeSeeCam in measuring saccades. The EyeSeeCam is a video oculography device which was used to run a protocol of saccade measures. We studied 39 patients with non-neurological Gaucher disease (type 1), 21 patients with type 3 (neurological) disease and a series of 35 healthy controls. Mean saccade parameters were compared across disease subgroups.
We confirmed the saccadic abnormality in patients with type 3 Gaucher disease and identified an unexpected subgroup of patients with type 1 Gaucher disease who demonstrated significant saccade parameter abnormalities. These patients also showed subtle neurological findings and shared a GBA1 variant.
This striking novel finding of a potentially attenuated type 3 Gaucher phenotype associated with a specific GBA1 variant and detectable saccadic abnormality prompts review of current disease classification. Further, this finding highlights the broad spectrum of neuronopathic Gaucher phenotypes relevant when designing inclusion criteria for clinical trials.