Four patients with D-bifunctional protein (DBP) deficiency: Expanding the phenotypic spectrum of a highly variable disease

Yuval E Landau, Gali Heimer, Ortal Barel, Nechama Shalva, Dina Marek-Yagel, Alvit Veber, Elisheva Javasky, Aya Shilon, Andreea Nissenkorn, Bruria Ben-Zeev, Yair Anikster
Molecular Genetics and Metabolism Reports 2020, 25: 100631

Introduction: Peroxisomal D-bifunctional protein (DBP) deficiency is an autosomal recessive disorder historically described as a Zellweger-like syndrome comprising neonatal seizures, retinopathy, hearing loss, dysmorphic features, and other complications. The HSD17B4 gene encodes DBP which is essential for oxidation of peroxisomal substrates. We describe 4 patients - 2 unrelated female girls and 2 monozygotic twin sisters - with DBP deficiency and phenotypic diversity.

Patient reports: Patient 1 presented neonatally with hypotonia and seizures, and later on developed global developmental delay and regression, sensorineural hearing loss, nystagmus and cortical blindness. The brain MRI demonstrated bilateral peri-sylvian polymicrogyria. Whole exome sequencing revealed 2 mutations in the HSD17B4 gene (c.752G>A, p.(Arg251Gln); c.868 + 1delG).Patient 2 presented with hypotonia, motor delay, and sensorineural hearing loss in infancy, considerable developmental regression during her fourth year, nystagmus, and peripheral neuropathy. Brain MRI demonstrated cerebellar atrophy and abnormal basal ganglia and white matter signal, which appeared after the age of two years. Whole exome sequencing revealed 2 mutations in the HSD17B4 gene (c.14 T>G, p.(Leu5Arg); c.752G>A, p.(Arg251Gln)).Patients 3 and 4, two female monozygotic twins, presented with hypotonia, developmental delay, and macrocephaly from birth, and later on also sensorineural hearing loss, infantile spasms and hypsarrhythmia, and adrenal insufficiency. Brain MRI demonstrated delayed myelination, and an assay of peroxisomal beta oxidation suggested DBP deficiency. Sequencing of the HSD17B4 gene revealed the same 2 mutations as in patient 1.

Discussion: We describe 4 patients with variable and diverse clinical picture of DBP deficiency and particularly emphasize the clinical, biochemical, and neuroimaging characteristics. Interestingly, the clinical phenotype varied even between patients with the exact two mutations in the HSD17B4 gene. In addition, in two of the three patients in whom levels of VLCFA including phytanic acid were measured, the levels were within normal limits. This is expanding further the clinical spectrum of this disorder, which should be considered in the differential diagnosis of every patient with hypotonia and developmental delay especially if accompanied by polymicrogyria, seizures, sensorineural hearing loss, or adrenal insufficiency regardless of their VLCFA profile.

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