Desmosterol (cholesta-5,24-dien-3β-ol) is a minor sterol that forms as an intermediate in the cholesterol biosynthetic pathway when the 24-unsaturated sterol bond is reduced as the last step rather than earlier in the conversion of lanosterol to cholesterol. In 1998, FitzPatrick et al. reported a premature infant who died shortly after birth and had marked tissue elevations of desmosterol and a strikingly abnormal phenotype. We describe here the first living patient with desmosterolosis and show biochemical evidence in plasma and cultured lymphoblasts for an autosomal recessive deficiency of 24-dehydrocholesterol reductase (DHCR24). The infant has severe microcephaly, agenesis of the corpus callosum, downslanting palpebral fissures, micrognathia, submucous cleft palate, clubfoot, and a persistent patent ductus arteriosus. Plasma sterol quantification in the patient at age 2 years demonstrated a normal cholesterol level, but a 100-fold increased level of desmosterol (60 mcg/ml; nl 0.5 ± 0.3 mcg/ml (SD)) suggesting deficient activity of 24-dehydrocholesterol (desmosterol) reductase (DHCR24). Both parents had mildly increased levels of desmosterol in plasma (mother: 1.4 mcg/ml; father: 1.8 mcg/ml), consistent with heterozygosity for DHCR24 deficiency. Analysis of sterol metabolism in cultured transformed lymphoblasts showed a 100-fold increased level of desmosterol and a moderately decreased level of cholesterol in the patient's cells and a 10-fold elevation of desmosterol in the mother's cells. At the age of 3.5 years, the patient stands but does not walk, uses a 5-word vocabulary, and lacks any major medical problems. This unique patient broadens the spectrum of inborn errors of cholesterol biosynthesis and suggests additional candidate clinical phenotypes associated with abnormal cholesterol metabolism.
- Agenesis corpus callosum
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