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Open access

Sarah W Y Poon, Karen K Y Leung, and Joanna Y L Tung

Summary

Severe hypertriglyceridemia is an endocrine emergency and is associated with acute pancreatitis and hyperviscosity syndrome. We describe an infant with lipoprotein lipase deficiency with severe hypertriglyceridemia who presented with acute pancreatitis. She was managed acutely with fasting and intravenous insulin infusion, followed by low-fat diet with no pharmacological agent. Subsequent follow-up until the age of 5 years showed satisfactory lipid profile and she has normal growth and development.

Learning points:

  • Hypertriglyceridemia-induced acute pancreatitis has significant morbidity and mortality, and prompt treatment is imperative.
  • When no secondary causes are readily identified, genetic evaluation should be pursued in hypertriglyceridemia in children.
  • Intravenous insulin is a safe and effective acute treatment for hypertriglyceridemia in children, even in infants.
  • Long-term management with dietary modifications alone could be effective for primary hypertriglyceridemia due to lipoprotein lipase deficiency, at least in early childhood phase.
Open access

Benjamin Kwan, Bernard Champion, Steven Boyages, Craig F Munns, Roderick Clifton-Bligh, Catherine Luxford, and Bronwyn Crawford

Summary

Autosomal dominant hypocalcaemia type 1 (ADH1) is a rare familial disorder characterised by low serum calcium and low or inappropriately normal serum PTH. It is caused by activating CASR mutations, which produces a left-shift in the set point for extracellular calcium. We describe an Australian family with a novel heterozygous missense mutation in CASR causing ADH1. Mild neuromuscular symptoms (paraesthesia, carpopedal spasm) were present in most affected individuals and required treatment with calcium and calcitriol. Basal ganglia calcification was present in three out of four affected family members. This case highlights the importance of correctly identifying genetic causes of hypocalcaemia to allow for proper management and screening of family members.

Learning points:

  • ADH1 is a rare cause of hypoparathyroidism due to activating CASR mutations and is the mirror image of familial hypocalciuric hypercalcaemia.
  • In patients with ADH1, symptoms of hypocalcaemia may be mild or absent. Basal ganglia calcification may be present in over a third of patients.
  • CASR mutation analysis is required for diagnostic confirmation and to facilitate proper management, screening and genetic counselling of affected family members.
  • Treatment with calcium and activated vitamin D analogues should be reserved for symptomatic individuals due to the risk of exacerbating hypercalciuria and its associated complications.
Open access

Anil Piya, Jasmeet Kaur, Alan M Rice, and Himangshu S Bose

Summary

Cholesterol transport into the mitochondria is required for synthesis of the first steroid, pregnenolone. Cholesterol is transported by the steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (STAR), which acts at the outer mitochondrial membrane prior to its import. Mutations in the STAR protein result in lipoid congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH). Although the STAR protein consists of seven exons, biochemical analysis in nonsteroidogenic COS-1 cells showed that the first two were not essential for pregnenolone synthesis. Here, we present a patient with ambiguous genitalia, salt-lossing crisis within two weeks after birth and low cortisol levels. Sequence analysis of the STAR, including the exon–intron boundaries, showed the complete deletion of exon 1 as well as more than 50 nucleotides upstream of STAR promoter. Mitochondrial protein import with the translated protein through synthesis cassette of the mutant STAR lacking exon 1 showed protein translation, but it is less likely to have synthesized without a promoter in our patient. Thus, a full-length STAR gene is necessary for physiological mitochondrial cholesterol transport in vivo.

Learning points:

  • STAR exon 1 deletion caused lipoid CAH.
  • Exon 1 substitution does not affect biochemical activity.
  • StAR promoter is responsible for gonadal development.
Open access

Ramesh Srinivasan, Stephen Ball, Martin Ward-Platt, David Bourn, Ciaron McAnulty, and Tim Cheetham

Summary

Aim: Differentiating familial cranial diabetes insipidus (CDI) from primary polydipsia can be difficult. We report the diagnostic utility of genetic testing as a means of confirming or excluding this diagnosis.

Patient and methods: The index case presented at 3 months with polydipsia. He was diagnosed with familial CDI based on a positive family history combined with what was considered to be suspicious symptomatology and biochemistry. He was treated with desmopressin (DDAVP) but re-presented at 5 months of age with hyponatraemia and the DDAVP was stopped. Gene sequencing of the vasopressin gene in father and his offspring was undertaken to establish the underlying molecular defect.

Results: Both father and daughter were found to have the pathogenic mutation c.242T>C (p.Leu81Pro) in exon 2 of the AVP gene consistent with a diagnosis of familial diabetes insipidus. The index case did not have the pathogenic mutation and the family could be reassured that he would not require intervention with DDAVP.

Conclusions: Gene sequencing of AVP gene can have a valuable role in predicting whether or not a child is at risk of developing CDI in future. This can help to prevent family uncertainty and unnecessary treatment with its associated risks.

Learning points

  • Differentiating patients with familial cranial diabetes insipidus from those with primary polydipsia is not always straightforward.
  • Molecular genetic analysis of the vasopressin gene is a valuable way of confirming or refuting a diagnosis of familial CDI in difficult cases and is a valuable way of identifying individuals who will develop CDI in later childhood. This information can be of great value to families.