Synthetic substrate ß-glucosidase activity in leukocytes: A reproducible method for the identification of patients and carriers of Gaucher's disease


Ph.D. Department of Pediatrics, Box C233 University of Colorado Medical Center Denver Colorado 80262, U.S.A.


A method is described for the identification of patients and carriers of Gaucher's disease, using leukocytes from a small volume of blood. The fluorogenic substrate, 4-methyl-umbglliferyl-β-D-glucopyranoside, was assayed in the presence of pure sodium taurocholate (2.5 mg/ml) and Triton X-100 (2.0 mg/ml). Some commercial brands of pure sodium taurocholate were satisfactory for this purpose. The pH optimum for controls, Gaucher disease carriers and Gaucher disease patients was 5.4 using citrate-phosphate buffer. Although leukocytes prepared from only a small amount of blood (2–8 ml) are required, there is sufficient quantity for measuring other lysosomal enzymes as controls. Using this method, 12 patients with all types of Gaucher's disease and 12 obligate heterozygotes were identified. Carrier status was predicted in six other family members and ruled out in six others. Eight unaffected people married to Gaucher carriers or Gaucher patients were predicted to be non-carriers of Gaucher's disease, thereby ruling out children affected with Gaucher's disease in that mating.