Characterization of urinary sulfatides in metachromatic leukodystrophy using electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry

P D Whitfield, P C Sharp, D W Johnson, P Nelson, P J Meikle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Metachromatic leukodystrophy is an inherited disorder characterized by a deficiency of the lysosomal enzyme arylsulfatase A and the subsequent accumulation of sulfatide in neural and visceral tissues. Clinical diagnosis is usually confirmed by in vitro analysis of arylsulfatase A activity, but may be complicated in cases of arylsulfatase A pseudodeficiency and sphingolipid activator protein deficiency. Large quantities of sulfatide can be detected in the urinary sediment of affected individuals and its measurement can aid in diagnosis. A number of complex methods have been described for the measurement of urinary sulfatide excretion. We have developed a rapid, sensitive, and specific mass spectrometric method for determining urinary sulfatide concentration of metachromatic leukodystrophy patients. Sulfatides are extracted from urine and then directly analyzed using electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry. A sulfatide internal standard has been employed for quantification. The assay has demonstrated significant elevations in the concentrations of several hydroxy and nonhydroxy molecular species of sulfatide in the urine of metachromatic leukodystrophy patients compared to age-matched controls. Analysis of urinary sulfatides in arylsulfatase A pseudodeficiency patients showed a mild elevation in some individuals when related to urinary phosphatidylcholine.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-7
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular Genetics and Metabolism
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2001


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukodystrophy, Metachromatic
  • Male
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Phosphatidylcholines
  • Sulfoglycosphingolipids


Dive into the research topics of 'Characterization of urinary sulfatides in metachromatic leukodystrophy using electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this