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Disease Profile

Gaucher disease type 3

Prevalence estimates on Rare Medical Network websites are calculated based on data available from numerous sources, including US and European government statistics, the NIH, Orphanet, and published epidemiologic studies. Rare disease population data is recognized to be highly variable, and based on a wide variety of source data and methodologies, so the prevalence data on this site should be assumed to be estimated and cannot be considered to be absolutely correct.

<1 / 1 000 000


US Estimated


Europe Estimated

Age of onset

All ages





Autosomal dominant A pathogenic variant in only one gene copy in each cell is sufficient to cause an autosomal dominant disease.


Autosomal recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of each gene of the chromosome are needed to cause an autosomal recessive disease and observe the mutant phenotype.


dominant X-linked dominant inheritance, sometimes referred to as X-linked dominance, is a mode of genetic inheritance by which a dominant gene is carried on the X chromosome.


recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of a gene on the X chromosome cause an X-linked recessive disorder.


Mitochondrial or multigenic Mitochondrial genetic disorders can be caused by changes (mutations) in either the mitochondrial DNA or nuclear DNA that lead to dysfunction of the mitochondria and inadequate production of energy.


Multigenic or multifactor Inheritance involving many factors, of which at least one is genetic but none is of overwhelming importance, as in the causation of a disease by multiple genetic and environmental factors.


Not applicable


Other names (AKA)

GD 3; Gaucher disease, juvenile and adult, cerebral; Gaucher disease, chronic neuronopathic type;


Congenital and Genetic Diseases; Eye diseases; Lung Diseases;


The following summary is from Orphanet, a European reference portal for information on rare diseases and orphan drugs.

Orpha Number: 77261

Gaucher disease type 3 is the subacute neurological form of Gaucher disease (GD; see this term) characterized by progressive encephalopathy and associated with the systemic manifestations (organomegaly, bone involvement, cytopenia) of GD type 1 (see this term).

The annual incidence of GD is about 1/60,000 and the prevalence is approximately 1/100,000. GD type 3 accounts for 5% of all patients with GD.

Clinical description
The clinical presentation is very heterogeneous. Neurological disease appears in childhood or adolescence, a much later onset than in GD type 2 (see this term). Encephalopathy can be the presenting sign of the disease or may occur later in the disease course. Some patients have moderate systemic involvement associated with ophthalmoplegia as the only neurological symptom. For the more severe forms, the neurological signs encountered are variable: supranuclear horizontal ophthalmoplegia, progressive myoclonic epilepsy, cerebellar ataxia, spasticity and dementia. GD type 3 is also associated with the clinical and biological signs of ''systemic'' disease, such as frequent asthenia, growth retardation or delayed puberty, splenomegaly and hepatomegaly. Bone anomalies may also be present and manifest as deformations, osteopenia, which sometimes leads to pathological fractures or vertebral compression, bone infarctions or even aseptic osteonecrosis. Involvement of other organs (rarely symptomatic pulmonary, renal and cardiac) is less common. Pancytopenia is frequent and involves varying degrees of thrombocytopenia (sometimes severe), anemia and, less frequently, leukoneutropenia. Polyclonal hypergammaglobulinemia is often present and is sometimes complicated by monoclonal gammapathy.

GD type 3 is a lysosomal storage disease caused by a mutation in the GBA gene (1q21) that codes for the lysosomal enzyme, glucocerebrosidase. The deficiency in glucocerebrosidase leads to the accumulation of glucosylceramidase (or beta-glucocerebrosidase) deposits in the cells of the reticuloendothelial system of the liver, spleen and the bone marrow (Gaucher cells).

Diagnostic methods
Diagnostic methods involve ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for initial evaluation and subsequent monitoring of hepatosplenomegaly, radiography and bone scintigraphy to detect bone lesions and complications, osteodensitometry for the evaluation of osteopenia of the lumbar spine and femoral neck, and cardiac ultrasound for the detection of pulmonary arterial hypertension. An increase in certain biological markers that are important both for the initial diagnosis and monitoring with or without treatment, is also observed: chitotriosidase, an angiotensin converting enzyme, ferritin and tartrate-resistant acid phosphatases. Diagnosis can be confirmed by demonstrating a deficit in the enzymatic activity of glucocerebrosidase in circulating leukocytes. In rare cases, genotyping may be of prognostic value: a patient with a homozygous L444P mutation in the GBA gene has a very high risk of developing neurological disease.

Genetic counseling
Transmission is autosomal recessive.

Management and treatment
The treatment for patients with GD type 3 exhibiting clinically significant non neurological manifestations is enzyme substitution therapy (imiglucerase with marketing authorization (MA) since 1997). It appears to slow progression of the neurological symptoms and is effective against the systemic manifestations.

In the absence of treatment, clinical progression leads to death within a few years.

Visit the Orphanet disease page for more resources.


This table lists symptoms that people with this disease may have. For most diseases, symptoms will vary from person to person. People with the same disease may not have all the symptoms listed. This information comes from a database called the Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO) . The HPO collects information on symptoms that have been described in medical resources. The HPO is updated regularly. Use the HPO ID to access more in-depth information about a symptom.

Medical Terms Other Names
Learn More:
80%-99% of people have these symptoms
Avascular necrosis
Death of bone due to decreased blood supply
Bone pain

[ more ]

Enlarged liver
Increased bone mineral density
Increased bone density
Increased susceptibility to fractures
Abnormal susceptibility to fractures
Bone fragility
Frequent broken bones
Increased bone fragility
Increased tendency to fractures

[ more ]

Eye muscle paralysis
Breakdown of bone
Increased spleen size
Squint eyes

[ more ]

30%-79% of people have these symptoms
Low number of red blood cells or hemoglobin
Delayed puberty
Delayed pubertal development
Delayed pubertal growth
Pubertal delay

[ more ]

Delayed skeletal maturation
Delayed bone maturation
Delayed skeletal development

[ more ]

Dementia, progressive
Progressive dementia

[ more ]

Gait disturbance
Abnormal gait
Abnormal walk
Impaired gait

[ more ]

Generalized myoclonic seizure
Hydrops fetalis
Increased circulating antibody level
Low blood cell count
Low platelet count
5%-29% of people have these symptoms
Abnormal myocardium morphology
Abnormal pulmonary Interstitial morphology
Abnormality in area between air sacs in lung
Aortic valve calcification
Blood in urine
Mitral valve calcification
Pericardial effusion
Fluid around heart
High urine protein levels
Protein in urine

[ more ]

Pulmonary arterial hypertension
Increased blood pressure in blood vessels of lungs
Recurrent respiratory infections
Frequent respiratory infections
Multiple respiratory infections
respiratory infections, recurrent
Susceptibility to respiratory infections

[ more ]

Percent of people who have these symptoms is not available through HPO
Adult onset
Symptoms begin in adulthood
Autosomal recessive inheritance
Decreased beta-glucocerebrosidase level
Decreased body weight
Decreased weight
Low body weight
Low weight
Weight less than 3rd percentile

[ more ]

Horizontal supranuclear gaze palsy
Motor delay
Neurological speech impairment
Speech disorder
Speech impairment
Speech impediment

[ more ]

Progressive neurologic deterioration
Worsening neurological symptoms
Short stature
Decreased body height
Small stature

[ more ]

Spastic paraparesis
Vascular calcification


Making a diagnosis for a genetic or rare disease can often be challenging. Healthcare professionals typically look at a person’s medical history, symptoms, physical exam, and laboratory test results in order to make a diagnosis. The following resources provide information relating to diagnosis and testing for this condition. If you have questions about getting a diagnosis, you should contact a healthcare professional.

Newborn Screening

  • An ACTion (ACT) sheet is available for this condition that describes the short-term actions a health professional should follow when an infant has a positive newborn screening result. ACT sheets were developed by experts in collaboration with the American College of Medical Genetics.


    The resources below provide information about treatment options for this condition. If you have questions about which treatment is right for you, talk to your healthcare professional.

    Management Guidelines

    • The NORD Physician Guide for Gaucher disease type 3 was developed as a free service of the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) and it's medical advisors. The guides provide a resource for clinicians about specific rare disorders to facilitate diagnosis and treatment of their patients with this condition.


      Support and advocacy groups can help you connect with other patients and families, and they can provide valuable services. Many develop patient-centered information and are the driving force behind research for better treatments and possible cures. They can direct you to research, resources, and services. Many organizations also have experts who serve as medical advisors or provide lists of doctors/clinics. Visit the group’s website or contact them to learn about the services they offer. Inclusion on this list is not an endorsement by GARD.

      Organizations Supporting this Disease

        Learn more

        These resources provide more information about this condition or associated symptoms. The in-depth resources contain medical and scientific language that may be hard to understand. You may want to review these resources with a medical professional.

        Where to Start

        • The American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy provides information on the treatment of genetic diseases.
        • MedlinePlus was designed by the National Library of Medicine to help you research your health questions, and it provides more information about this topic.
        • Genetics Home Reference (GHR) contains information on Gaucher disease type 3. This website is maintained by the National Library of Medicine.
        • The National Human Genome Research Institute's (NHGRI) website has an information page on this topic. NHGRI is part of the National Institutes of Health and supports research on the structure and function of the human genome and its role in health and disease.
        • The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) collects and disseminates research information related to neurological disorders. Click on the link to view information on this topic.
        • The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) has a report for patients and families about this condition. NORD is a patient advocacy organization for individuals with rare diseases and the organizations that serve them.

          In-Depth Information

          • GeneReviews provides current, expert-authored, peer-reviewed, full-text articles describing the application of genetic testing to the diagnosis, management, and genetic counseling of patients with specific inherited conditions.
          • MeSH® (Medical Subject Headings) is a terminology tool used by the National Library of Medicine. Click on the link to view information on this topic.
          • The Monarch Initiative brings together data about this condition from humans and other species to help physicians and biomedical researchers. Monarch’s tools are designed to make it easier to compare the signs and symptoms (phenotypes) of different diseases and discover common features. This initiative is a collaboration between several academic institutions across the world and is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Visit the website to explore the biology of this condition.
          • Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) is a catalog of human genes and genetic disorders. Each entry has a summary of related medical articles. It is meant for health care professionals and researchers. OMIM is maintained by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. 
          • Orphanet is a European reference portal for information on rare diseases and orphan drugs. Access to this database is free of charge.
          • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Gaucher disease type 3. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.