Since hearing and vision deficiencies may be difficult to identify in infants, peroxisomal disorders are usually detected by observations of failure to thrive, hypotonia, mental retardation, widely open fontanel, abnormalities in liver enzymes, and an enlarged liver. If peroxisomal disorders are suspected, blood plasma assays for VLCFAs, phytanic acid, and pipecolic acid are conducted. Additional tests include plasmalogen biosynthesis potential.
For many of the peroxisomal disorders, there is no standard course of treatment, with supportive treatment strategies focusing on alleviation of complications and symptoms. In general, most treatments that are attempted are dietary, whereby attempts are made to artificially correct biochemical abnormalities associated with the disorders. Therapies include supplementation of the diet with antioxidant vitamins, or limitation of intake of fatty acids, especially VLCFAs.
Another area of dietary therapy that is being investigated is the supplementation of the diet with pure DHA, given as early in life as possible, in conjunction with a normal well-balanced diet. Some results have indicated that if given soon enough during development, DHA therapy may prevent some of the devastating consequences of peroxisomal disorders, including brain damage and the loss of vision.
Other treatment strategies include addition of important missing chemicals. For example, in disorders where there is faulty adrenal function, replacement adrenal hormone therapy is used.
Any dietary changes should be monitored biochemically to determine if the supplements are having their desired effects and are not causing additional adverse effects.
Bone marrow transplants may be used to treat X-ALD, and can be effective if done early in the course of the childhood form of the disease.
Physical and psychological therapies are important for all types of peroxisomal disorders.
Patients with peroxisomal disorders, and particularly X-ALD, have been treated with a mixture of glycerol trioleate-glycerol trieucate (4:1 by volume), prepared from olive and rapeseed oils, and referred to as Lorenzo's oil (developed by parents of a son, Lorenzo, who had X-ALD, whose story was documented in the 1992 movie, Lorenzo's Oil), to decrease the levels of VLCFA. Other diets that have been tried include dietary supplementation with plasmalogen precursors to increase plasmalogen levels and with cholic acid to normalize bile acids. However, there has been only limited success demonstrated with the use of these treatments. More research is needed to determine the long-term safety and effectiveness of these treatment strategies.
Peroxisomal disorders range from life-threatening to cases in which people may function with some degree of mental and motor retardation. As of 2001, there was not yet a cure. Enzyme replacement therapies, including enzyme infusion, transplantation, and gene therapy, may hold promise for future advances in the treatment of these disorders. Research is being conducted to increase scientific understanding of these disorders and to find ways to prevent, treat, and cure them."