Hurler syndrome is a rare, inherited disease of metabolism in which a person cannot break down long chains of sugar molecules called glycosaminoglycans (formerly called mucopolysaccharides).
Hurler syndrome belongs to a group of diseases called mucopolysaccharidoses, or MPS.
- MPS II (Hunter syndrome)
- MPS IV (Morquio syndrome)
- MPS III (Sanfilippo syndrome)
- MPS I S (Scheie syndrome)
Alpha-L-iduronate deficiency; Mucopolysaccharidosis type I; MPS I H
Persons with Hurler syndrome do not make a substance called lysosomal alpha-L-iduronidase. This substance, called an enzyme, helps break down long chains of sugar molecules called glycosaminoglycans (formerly called mucopolysaccharides). These molecules are found throughout the body, often in mucus and in fluid around the joints.
Without the enzyme, glycosaminoglycans build up and damage organs, including the heart. Symptoms can range from mild to severe.
Hurler syndrome is inherited, which means that your parents must pass the disease on to you. If both parents carry the defective gene related to this condition, each of their children has a 25% chance of developing the disease.
Hurler syndrome is a type of mucopolysaccharidosis called MPS I. Hurler syndrome is the most severe type. It is categorized as MPS I H.
The other subtypes of MPS I are:
- MPS I H-S (Hurler-Scheie syndrome)
- MPS I S (Scheie syndrome)
Symptoms of Hurler syndrome most often appear between ages 3 and 8. Infants with severe Hurler syndrome appear normal at birth. Facial symptoms may become more noticeable during the first 2 years of life.
- Abnormal bones in the spine
- Claw hand
- Cloudy corneas
- Halted growth
- Heart valve problems
- Joint disease, including stiffness
- Intellectual disability that gets worse over time
- Thick, coarse facial features with low nasal bridge
Exams and Tests
- Genetic testing for changes (mutations) to the alpha-L-iduronidase (IDUA) gene
- Urine tests for extra mucopolysaccharides
- X-ray of the spine
Enzyme replacement therapy for Hurler syndrome adds a working form of the missing enzyme to the body. The medication, called laronidase (Aldurazyme), is given through a vein (intravenously). Talk to your doctor for more information.
Bone marrow transplant has been used in several patients with this condition. The treatment has had mixed results.
Other treatments depend on the organs that are affected.
For more information and support, contact one of the following organizations:
- The National MPS Society -- www.mpssociety.org
- Canadian Society for MPS and Related Diseases -- www.mpssociety.ca
- Society for MPS Diseases -- www.mpssociety.co.uk
Hurler syndrome is a disease with a poor outlook. Children with this disease develop nervous system problems, and can die young.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if:
- You have a family history of Hurler syndrome and are considering having children
- Your child begins to show symptoms of Hurler syndrome
Experts recommend genetic counseling and testing for couples with a family history of Hurler syndrome who are considering having children. Prenatal testing is available.
Staba SL, Escolar ML, Poe M, et al. Cord-blood transplants from unrelated donors in patients with Hurler's syndrome. N Engl J Med. 2004 May 6;350(19):1960-9.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Mucolipidoses Fact Sheet. Office of Communications and Public Liaison. Bethesda, MD; Publication No. 03-5115. February 13, 2007.
Wraith JE. Mucopolysaccharidoses and oligosaccharidoses. In: Saudubray JM, van den Berghe G, Walter JH, eds. Inborn Metabolic Diseases: Diagnosis and Treatment. 5th ed. New York, NY: Springer; 2012:chap 40.
Last reviewed 5/7/2013 by Chad Haldeman-Englert, MD, FACMG, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Section on Medical Genetics, Winston-Salem, NC. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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