Bile Acid Synthesis Disorders in Arabs: A 10-year Screening Study

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Abstract

Objectives:

Early diagnosis of bile acid synthesis disorders (BASDs) is important because, untreated, these conditions can be fatal. Our objectives were to screen children with cholestasis or unexplained liver disease for BASD and in those with confirmed BASD to evaluate the effectiveness of cholic acid therapy.

Methods:

A routine serum total bile acid measurement was performed on children with cholestasis, liver cirrhosis, and liver failure. Patients were screened for BASD by fast atom bombardment ionization-mass spectrometry (FAB-MS) analysis of urine, and molecular analysis confirmed diagnosis. Treatment response to oral cholic acid (10–15 mg/kg bw/day) was assessed from liver function tests and fat-soluble vitamin levels. FAB-MS analysis of urine was used to monitor compliance and biochemical response.

Results:

Between 2007 and 2016, 626 patients were evaluated; 450 with infantile cholestasis. Fifteen cases of BASD were diagnosed: 12 presented with infantile cholestasis (2.7%, 7 boys), an 8-year-old boy presented with cirrhosis, and two 18-month-old boys presented with hepatomegaly and rickets. Eleven were caused by 3β-hydroxy-Δ5-C27-steroid oxidoreductase dehydrogenase deficiency, 3 from Δ4-3-oxosteroid 5β-reductase deficiency, and 1 had Zellweger spectrum disorder. In all but 1, serum total bile acids were normal or low. With cholic acid therapy, 10 are alive and healthy with their native liver. Liver failure developed in 3 infants despite therapy; 2 died and 1 underwent liver transplantation.

Conclusions:

BASDs are rare but treatable causes of metabolic liver disease in Saudi Arabia. BASD should be considered in infants with cholestasis and low or normal serum total bile acid concentrations.

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