Mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS) type I and II are two closely related lysosomal storage diseases associated with disrupted glycosaminoglycan catabolism. In MPS II, the first step of degradation of heparan sulfate (HS) and dermatan sulfate (DS) is blocked by a deficiency in the lysosomal enzyme iduronate 2‐sulfatase (IDS), while, in MPS I, blockage of the second step is caused by a deficiency in iduronidase (IDUA). The subsequent accumulation of HS and DS causes lysosomal hypertrophy and an increase in the number of lysosomes in cells, and impacts cellular functions, like cell adhesion, endocytosis, intracellular trafficking of different molecules, intracellular ionic balance, and inflammation. Characteristic phenotypical manifestations of both MPS I and II include skeletal disease, reflected in short stature, inguinal and umbilical hernias, hydrocephalus, hearing loss, coarse facial features, protruded abdomen with hepatosplenomegaly, and neurological involvement with varying functional concerns. However, a few manifestations are disease‐specific, including corneal clouding in MPS I, epidermal manifestations in MPS II, and differences in the severity and nature of behavioral concerns. These phenotypic differences appear to be related to different ratios between DS and HS, and their sulfation levels. MPS I is characterized by higher DS/HS levels and lower sulfation levels, while HS levels dominate over DS levels in MPS II and sulfation levels are higher. The high presence of DS in the cornea and its involvement in the arrangement of collagen fibrils potentially causes corneal clouding to be prevalent in MPS I, but not in MPS II. The differences in neurological involvement may be due to the increased HS levels in MPS II, because of the involvement of HS in neuronal development. Current treatment options for patients with MPS II are often restricted to enzyme replacement therapy (ERT). While ERT has beneficial effects on respiratory and cardiopulmonary function and extends the lifespan of the patients, it does not significantly affect CNS manifestations, probably because the enzyme cannot pass the blood–brain barrier at sufficient levels. Many experimental therapies, therefore, aim at delivery of IDS to the CNS in an attempt to prevent neurocognitive decline in the patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7888
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We gratefully acknowledge Julie Eisengart for her expertise, assistance and critical revision of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Dermatan sulfate
  • Glycosaminoglycans
  • Heparin sulfate
  • Mucopolysaccharidosis type I
  • Mucopolysaccharidosis type II


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