Transcobalamin (TC) deficiency—Potential cause of bone marrow failure in childhood

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It is unusual for inborn errors of metabolism to be considered in the investigative work-up of pancytopenia. We report a family in which the proband presented with failure to thrive at 2 months of age and subsequent bone marrow failure. A previous sibling had died at 7 months of age with suspected leukaemia. Haematological findings in the proband were significant for pancytopenia, and bone marrow aspiration showed dysplastic changes in all cell lineages. Urinary organic acid analysis revealed elevated methylmalonic acid. The synthesis of transcobalamin II (transcobalamin, TC) by cultured fibroblasts was markedly reduced, confirming the diagnosis of TC deficiency. The proband and his younger asymptomatic sister (also found to have TC deficiency) were homozygous for R399X (c.1195C>T), a novel mutation resulting in the loss of the C- terminal 29 amino acids of TC, a highly conserved region. Response to parenteral vitamin B12 in the proband was dramatic. At 6 years 3 months of age, physical examination is normal and developmental level is age appropriate. His sister is clinically asymptomatic and is also developing normally. Propionylcarnitine concentrations were not elevated in the newborn screening cards from the proband and sister, but that was for specimens retrieved from storage after 7 years and 5 years, respectively. Inherited and acquired cobalamin disorders should both be considered in the differential diagnosis of bone marrow failure syndromes in young children. Early detection of the metabolic causes of bone marrow failure can ensure prompt recovery in some cases involving the vitamin B12 pathway.

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