Symptoms of leukocyte adhesion deficiency usually begin during infancy and include frequent infections in soft tissues, such as the gums, skin, and muscles.
Doctors do special blood tests to diagnose the disorder.
Treatment involves antibiotics to prevent infections and transfusions of white blood cells, but stem cell transplantation is the only effective treatment.
(See also Overview of Immunodeficiency Disorders.)
In leukocyte adhesion deficiency, white blood cells are lacking a protein on their surface. As a result, white blood cells are less able to travel to sites of infection and to kill and ingest bacteria and other foreign invaders.
There are three forms of this disorder.
Symptoms of leukocyte adhesion deficiency usually begin during infancy.
In severely affected infants, infections develop in soft tissues, such as the gums, skin, and muscles. These infections recur and/or become worse, and affected tissues may die. No pus forms in infected areas. Infections become increasingly difficult to control.
Wounds do not heal well.
Often, the umbilical cord is slow to fall off, taking 3 weeks or more after birth. Normally, the umbilical cord falls off on its own a week or two after birth.
Most children with severe disease die by age 5 unless treated successfully with stem cell transplantation.
Less severely affected infants have few serious infections. They can survive until adulthood without treatment.
In children with one form of leukocyte adhesion deficiency, intellectual and physical development is often slow.
Treatment of leukocyte adhesion deficiency includes antibiotics, often given continuously, to prevent infections. Transfusions of granulocytes (a type of white blood cells) can also help.
However, stem cell transplantation is the only effective treatment. It has been used in a few people with specific genetic mutations. It may provide a cure.
Gene therapy for this disorder is being studied.
For children with one type of the disorder, taking fucose (a sugar) supplements may help