Acatalasia is a rare genetic disorder that is characterized by the deficiency or complete absence of the enzyme catalase in the body. Catalase is an important enzyme that plays a vital role in breaking down hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen, which helps to prevent cell damage and maintain cellular health. People with acatalasia are unable to produce enough catalase to break down hydrogen peroxide, which can lead to a buildup of this compound in the body. This can cause a range of symptoms, including oral ulcers, gum bleeding, and gastrointestinal issues.

Acatalasia is an autosomal recessive disorder, which means that a person must inherit two copies of the defective gene, one from each parent, to develop the condition. The condition is rare, with an estimated prevalence of 1 in 300,000 individuals worldwide.


The primary function of catalase is to break down hydrogen peroxide, a toxic byproduct of metabolism, into water and oxygen.

There are several causes of acatalasia, including:

  1. Genetic mutation: The most common cause of acatalasia is a mutation in the CAT gene that codes for the production of catalase enzyme. This gene mutation can be inherited from one or both parents, leading to a deficiency or absence of catalase in the body.
  2. Environmental factors: Exposure to environmental toxins, such as heavy metals or certain chemicals, can damage or destroy the catalase enzyme in the body, leading to acatalasia.
  3. Autoimmune disorders: In some cases, acatalasia may be a result of an autoimmune disorder where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the catalase enzyme.
  4. Malnutrition: A deficiency in certain nutrients, such as vitamin E or selenium, can affect the production of catalase in the body, leading to acatalasia.

The symptoms of acatalasia can vary widely, depending on the severity of the deficiency or absence of catalase in the body. Some of the common symptoms include oral ulcers, gum infections, and easy bruising or bleeding. In severe cases, individuals with acatalasia may also experience vision problems, neurological issues, and respiratory difficulties.

Currently, there is no known cure for acatalasia, and treatment is focused on managing symptoms and preventing complications. This may include regular dental check-ups, careful wound care, and avoiding exposure to environmental toxins. In some cases, enzyme replacement therapy may also be used to supplement the missing catalase enzyme.


Catalase is an enzyme that plays a crucial role in breaking down hydrogen peroxide in the body. Without enough catalase, hydrogen peroxide can accumulate and cause tissue damage.

The main symptoms of acatalasia include:

  1. Oral ulcers: Acatalasia can cause painful ulcers in the mouth and on the gums.
  2. Skin lesions: Some individuals with acatalasia may experience skin lesions, especially on the hands and feet.
  3. Vision problems: In some cases, acatalasia can cause vision problems, such as cataracts and retinal damage.
  4. Anemia: Acatalasia may lead to a low red blood cell count (anemia) due to the destruction of red blood cells.
  5. Respiratory problems: Individuals with acatalasia may experience respiratory problems, such as shortness of breath and coughing.
  6. Increased risk of infections: Without enough catalase, the body may be more vulnerable to infections.
  7. Gastrointestinal problems: Acatalasia can cause digestive problems, such as diarrhea and abdominal pain.
  8. Developmental delays: Some children with acatalasia may experience developmental delays, especially in motor skills.
  9. Oral ulcers
  10. Bleeding gums
  11. Anemia
  12. Slow wound healing
  13. Frequent infections
  14. Sore throat
  15. Weakness and fatigue

The severity of symptoms can vary among individuals with acatalasia. Some people may have only mild symptoms, while others may experience more severe symptoms that can affect their quality of life. Early diagnosis and management of symptoms can help to improve the long-term outlook for individuals with acatalasia.


The main diagnosis of acatalasia is typically based on a combination of clinical symptoms, medical history, and genetic testing. The symptoms of acatalasia can vary widely between individuals and may include oral ulcers, gum bleeding, and other signs of tissue damage. A blood test can be used to measure the levels of catalase in the blood, although this is not always a reliable indicator of the condition.

Genetic testing is the most definitive method of diagnosing acatalasia. This typically involves a blood or saliva sample that is analyzed to look for mutations in the CAT gene, which is responsible for producing catalase. A diagnosis of acatalasia is usually confirmed if two copies of the mutated gene are present.

Laboratory tests may also be done to confirm the diagnosis of acatalasia. These tests may include a complete blood count (CBC), measurement of catalase levels in the blood, and assessment of hydrogen peroxide levels in the urine.

Other tests may be done to help rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms. For example, a biopsy of the affected tissue may be taken to look for signs of infection or inflammation, and blood tests may be done to check for anemia or other blood disorders.

Overall, the diagnosis of acatalasia can be challenging, as the condition is rare and the symptoms can be subtle. However, with the appropriate testing and evaluation, it is possible to make an accurate diagnosis and provide appropriate treatment and management.


There is currently no cure for acatalasia, and treatment is mainly focused on managing symptoms and preventing complications. Some of the main treatment approaches for acatalasia include:

  1. Avoiding exposure to oxidative stress: People with acatalasia should avoid exposure to substances that can increase oxidative stress, such as cigarette smoke, alcohol, and certain drugs. They should also avoid extreme temperatures, which can exacerbate symptoms.
  2. Dietary modifications: Eating a well-balanced diet can help reduce oxidative stress and minimize symptoms of acatalasia. Individuals with this condition should consume foods high in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables, and avoid high-fat, high-protein diets.
  3. Supplementing with antioxidants: Antioxidant supplements, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium, can help reduce oxidative stress and minimize symptoms of acatalasia. However, it is important to consult a healthcare provider before taking any supplements, as some can interact with medications and cause adverse effects.
  4. Wound care: Hydrogen peroxide buildup can impair wound healing, so individuals with acatalasia should take extra care to keep wounds clean and covered. In severe cases, medical interventions such as hyperbaric oxygen therapy may be necessary to promote healing.
  5. Symptomatic treatments: Depending on the severity of symptoms, individuals with acatalasia may require medications to manage pain, inflammation, and other symptoms. For example, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be used to relieve pain, while corticosteroids may be prescribed to reduce inflammation.

In general, people with acatalasia should receive regular medical checkups and monitoring to ensure that symptoms are well-managed and complications are prevented. It is also important for individuals with this condition to work closely with healthcare providers and genetic counselors to understand the potential risks to future offspring and family members.