The Mucopolysaccharidoses (MPS Disorders) are a group of rare genetic disorders caused by the deficiency of one of the lysosomal enzymes, resulting in an inability to metabolize complex carbohydrates (mucopolysaccharides) into simpler molecules. High concentrations of mucopolysaccharides in the cells of the central nervous system, including the brain, cause the neurological and developmental deficits that accompany these disorders.
Mucopolysaccharides are rather thick jelly-like ("muco") compounds made of long chains ("poly") of sugar-like (saccharides) molecules used to make connective tissues in the body.
Lysosomal enzymes are found in the lysosome, a very small membrane-contained body (organelle) found in the cytoplasm of most cells. The lysosome is often called the "waste disposal plant" of the cell. The accumulation of these large, undegraded mucopolysaccharides in the cells of the body is the cause of a number of physical symptoms and abnormalities.
MPS-III (Sanfilippo Syndrome) is one of seven MPS Disorders. It is an inborn error of metabolism that is transmitted as an autosomal recessive genetic disorder. MPS-lll has been subdivided into four types: MPS-III Type A, MPS-III Type B, MPS-III Type C, and MPS-III Type D. All types are associated with some degree of mental deterioration, but the severity depends on the particular type of MPS-lll. Several physical defects may be present, and the severity of these defects varies with the type of MPS-III. In the case of each type of MPS-III, abnormal amounts of a specific, chemically complex molecule is excreted in the urine. The excreted chemical is the same for each of the four types of MPS-III, since the defective gene involves a different step, and thus a different enzyme, in the deconstruction of the same mucopolysaccharide. By testing for one or another of these enzymes, the variant type may be readily identified.