Biochemical and imaging parameters in acid sphingomyelinase deficiency: Potential utility as biomarkers

Eline C. B. Eskes, Barbara Sjouke, Frédéric M. Vaz, Susan M. I. Goorden, André B. P. van Kuilenburg, Johannes M. F. G. Aerts, Carla E. M. Hollak

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Acid Sphingomyelinase Deficiency (ASMD), or Niemann-Pick type A/B disease, is a rare lipid storage disorder leading to accumulation of sphingomyelin and its precursors primarily in macrophages. The disease has a broad phenotypic spectrum ranging from a fatal infantile form with severe neurological involvement (the infantile neurovisceral type) to a primarily visceral form with different degrees of pulmonary, liver, spleen and skeletal involvement (the chronic visceral type). With the upcoming possibility of treatment with enzyme replacement therapy, the need for biomarkers that predict or reflect disease progression has increased. Biomarkers should be validated for their use as surrogate markers of clinically relevant endpoints. In this review, clinically important endpoints as well as biochemical and imaging markers of ASMD are discussed and potential new biomarkers are identified. We suggest as the most promising biomarkers that may function as surrogate endpoints in the future: diffusion capacity measured by spirometry, spleen volume, platelet count, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, liver fibrosis measured with a fibroscan, lysosphingomyelin and walked distance in six minutes. Currently, no biomarkers have been validated. Several plasma markers of lipid-laden cells, fibrosis or inflammation are of high potential as biomarkers and deserve further study. Based upon current guidelines for biomarkers, recommendations for the validation process are provided.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-26
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Genetics and Metabolism
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • Acid sphingomyelinase deficiency (ASMD)
  • Biochemical markers
  • Biomarkers
  • Clinical endpoints
  • Imaging parameters
  • Niemann-Pick disease type B (NPB)

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