Morquio syndrome is a disease of metabolism in which the body is missing or does not have enough of a substance needed to break down long chains of sugar molecules. These chains of molecules are called glycosaminoglycans (formerly called mucopolysaccharides).
The syndrome belongs to a group of diseases called mucopolysaccharidoses (MPS). Specifically, it is known as MPS IV.
Morquio syndrome is an inherited condition, which means it is passed down through families. If both parents carry a nonworking copy of a gene related to this condition, each of their children has a 25% (1 in 4) chance of developing the disease. This is called an autosomal recessive trait.
There are 2 forms of Morquio syndrome: Type A and Type B.
The body needs these enzymes to break down a long strand of sugar molecules called the keratan sulfate sugar chain. In both types, abnormally large amounts of glycosaminoglycans build up in the body. This can damage organs.
Symptoms usually start between ages 1 and 3. They include:
The health care provider will perform a physical examination. Examination and testing may reveal:
Urine tests are usually done first. These tests may show extra mucopolysaccharides, but they can't determine the specific form of MPS.
Other tests may include:
People with Morquio syndrome should have MRI of the lower skull and upper neck to determine if their upper vertebrae are underdeveloped.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a medicine for Morquio syndrome type A, called elosulfase alfa (Vimizim). It is given through a vein (IV, intravenously). Talk to your provider for more information.
Symptoms are treated as they occur. A spinal fusion may prevent permanent spinal cord injury in people whose neck bones are underdeveloped.
For more information and support, contact one of the following organizations:
Cognitive function (ability to think clearly) is usually normal in people with Morquio syndrome.
Bone problems can lead to significant complications. For example, the small bones at the top of the neck may slip and damage the spinal cord, causing paralysis. Surgery to correct such problems should be done if possible.
Heart problems may lead to death.
These complications may occur:
Call your provider if symptoms of Morquio syndrome occur.
Genetic counseling is recommended for couples who want to have children and who have a family history of Morquio syndrome. Counseling is also recommended for families who have a child with Morquio syndrome to help them understand the condition and possible treatments. Prenatal testing is available.
Reviewed 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, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.