N-Acetylcysteine Therapy in an Infant with Transaldolase Deficiency Is Well Tolerated and Associated with Normalization of Alpha Fetoprotein Levels
Transaldolase deficiency is a rare autosomal recessive disorder of the pentose phosphate pathway that presents clinically with infantile-onset hepatopathy progressing to cirrhosis, nephropathy, connective tissue abnormalities resembling cutis laxa, coagulopathy, cytopenias, and increased risk of hepatocellular carcinoma. In many cases, death occurs in infancy or early childhood. There is no established treatment for transaldolase deficiency in humans. Recent work in a knockout mouse model of transaldolase deficiency has demonstrated a benefit to supplementation with the glutathione precursor N-acetylcysteine (NAC). We describe an infant with genetically confirmed transaldolase deficiency with multisystem involvement, including liver enlargement and markedly elevated alpha fetoprotein. Acetaminophen was strictly avoided. Treatment with oral NAC over a 6-month period was well tolerated and was associated with a sustained normalization of alpha fetoprotein levels and stable clinical course. The clinical significance of normalized serum alpha fetoprotein in this patient is not certain, although it may reflect decreased hepatocyte injury and reduced hepatocarcinogenesis as has been suggested in the mouse disease model. NAC supplementation may provide benefit in humans with transaldolase deficiency. Longer follow-up and data on the response of additional patients with transaldolase deficiency to NAC supplementation will be required to further evaluate efficacy and optimize dosing.
KeywordsAlpha-fetoprotein Glutathione N-acetylcysteine Pentose phosphate pathway Transaldolase deficiency
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