Role of Postmortem Genetic Testing Demonstrated in a Case of Glutaric Aciduria Type II

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Glutaric aciduria type II, or multiple acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency, is a rare metabolic disorder inherited in an autosomal recessive manner. The condition can be caused by mutations in at least 3 genes, including ETFA, ETFB, and ETFDH. When this potentially lethal disorder is known for its clinical and biochemical heterogeneity, mutation analysis will be an invaluable part of diagnosis. We here described a Chinese adolescent boy who enjoyed good health earlier and presented at the age of 14 years with severe vomiting. His condition deteriorated rapidly and he succumbed shortly after. With a travel history before presentation and the late age of onset, diagnosis was particularly difficult. Findings in perimortem biochemical investigations and postmortem autopsy were guiding but not diagnostic. The diagnosis of glutaric aciduria type II was finally confirmed by mutation analysis performed by direct sequencing on genomic DNA from peripheral blood, which identified 2 different unreported missense mutations, c.502G>T (p.V168F) and c.786A>G (p.Q262R), in ETFA. The father and the mother were found to be heterozygous for the 2 mutations in ETFA respectively. Subsequent molecular family screening also ruled out the disease in his elder sister, who had a history of convulsion and a suspicious plasma acylcarnitine profile, and freed her from life-long supplementation. The case showed that molecular autopsies should be part of routine postmortem examination of unexplained sudden death in all age groups and DNA-friendly samples should be routinely collected and archived. In the era of personalized medicine with the power of modern genetics, molecular diagnosis should be obtained for heterogeneous diseases with different genetic defects but sharing similar clinical and/or biochemical phenotypes.

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