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1.  Left ventricular noncompaction (LVNC) and low mitochondrial membrane potential are specific for Barth syndrome 
Barth syndrome (BTHS) is an X-linked mitochondrial defect characterised by dilated cardiomyopathy, neutropaenia and 3-methylglutaconic aciduria (3-MGCA). We report on two affected brothers with c.646G > A (p.G216R) TAZ gene mutations. The pathogenicity of the mutation, as indicated by the structure-based functional analyses, was further confirmed by abnormal monolysocardiolipin/cardiolipin ratio in dry blood spots of the patients as well as the occurrence of this mutation in another reported BTHS proband. In both brothers, 2D-echocardiography revealed some features of left ventricular noncompaction (LVNC) despite marked differences in the course of the disease; the eldest child presented with isolated cardiomyopathy from late infancy, whereas the youngest showed severe lactic acidosis without 3-MGCA during the neonatal period. An examination of the patients’ fibroblast cultures revealed that extremely low mitochondrial membrane potentials (mtΔΨ about 50 % of the control value) dominated other unspecific mitochondrial changes detected (respiratory chain dysfunction, abnormal ROS production and depressed antioxidant defense). 1) Our studies confirm generalised mitochondrial dysfunction in the skeletal muscle and the fibroblasts of BTHS patients, especially a severe impairment in the mtΔΨ and the inhibition of complex V activity. It can be hypothesised that impaired mtΔΨ and mitochondrial ATP synthase activity may contribute to episodes of cardiac arrhythmia that occurred unexpectedly in BTHS patients. 2) Severe lactic acidosis without 3-methylglutaconic aciduria in male neonates as well as an asymptomatic mild left ventricular noncompaction may characterise the ranges of natural history of Barth syndrome.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10545-013-9584-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorised users.
PMCID: PMC3825551  PMID: 23361305
2.  Nijmegen paediatric CDG rating scale: a novel tool to assess disease progression 
Congenital disorders of glycosylation (CDG) are a group of clinically heterogeneous inborn errors of metabolism. At present, treatment is available for only one CDG, but potential treatments for the other CDG are on the horizon. It will be vitally important in clinical trials of such agents to have a clear understanding of both the natural history of CDG and the corresponding burden of disability suffered by patients. To date, no multicentre studies have attempted to document the natural history of CDG. This is in part due to the lack of a reliable assessment tool to score CDG’s diverse clinical spectrum. Based on our earlier experience evaluating disease progression in disorders of oxidative phosphorylation, we developed a practical and semi-quantitative rating scale for children with CDG. The Nijmegen Paediatric CDG Rating Scale (NPCRS) has been validated in 12 children, offering a tool to objectively monitor disease progression. We undertook a successful trial of the NPCRS with a collaboration of nine experienced physicians, using video records of physical and neurological examination of patients. The use of NPCRS can facilitate both longitudinal and natural history studies that will be essential for future interventions.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10545-011-9325-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3232068  PMID: 21541726
3.  Drug-resistant epilepsia and fulminant valproate liver toxicity. Alpers-Huttenlocher syndrome in two children confirmed post mortem by identification of p.W748S mutation in POLG gene 
POLG (polymerase gamma) gene mutations lead to a variety of neurological disorders, including Alpers-Huttenlocher syndrome (AHS). The diagnostic triad of AHS is: resistant epilepsy, liver impairment triggered by sodium valproate (VA), and mitochondrial DNA depletion.
A cohort of 28 children with mitochondrial encephalopathy and liver failure was qualified for retrospective study of mitochondrial DNA depletion and POLG mutations.
The p.W748S POLG gene mutation was revealed in 2 children, the only ones in the cohort who fulfilled the AHS criteria. Depletion of mtDNA (16% of control value) was confirmed post mortem in available liver tissue and was not detected in the muscle. The disease started with drug-resistant seizures, failure to thrive and developmental regression at the ages of 7 and 18 months, respectively. Irreversible liver failure developed after VA administration. Co-existence of epilepsy, VA liver toxicity, lactic acidemia and muscle respiratory chain dysfunction led finally to the diagnosis of mitochondrial disorder (and AHS suspicion).
Our results confirm, for the first time, the occurrence of a pathology caused by POLG gene mutation(s) in the Polish population. POLG mutation screening and mtDNA depletion assessment should be included in differential diagnosis of drug-resistant epilepsy associated with a hepatopathy.
PMCID: PMC3539522  PMID: 21455106
drug-resistant epilepsy; valproate liver toxicity; Alpers-Huttenlocher syndrome; POLG gene mutation
4.  SRD5A3 is required for the conversion of polyprenol to dolichol, essential for N-linked protein glycosylation 
Cell  2010;142(2):203-217.
N-linked glycosylation is the most frequent modification of secreted and membrane-bound proteins in eukaryotic cells, disruption of which is the basis of the Congenital Disorders of Glycosylation (CDG). We describe a new type of CDG caused by mutations in the steroid 5α-reductase type 3 (SRD5A3) gene. Patients have mental retardation, ophthalmologic and cerebellar defects. We found that SRD5A3 is necessary for the reduction of the alpha-isoprene unit of polyprenols to form dolichols, required for synthesis of dolichol-linked monosaccharides and the oligosaccharide precursor used for N-glycosylation. The presence of residual dolichol in cells depleted for this enzyme suggests the existence of an unexpected alternative pathway for dolichol de novo biosynthesis. Our results thus suggest that SRD5A3 is likely to be the long-sought polyprenol reductase and reveal the genetic basis of one of the earliest steps in protein N-linked glycosylation.
PMCID: PMC2940322  PMID: 20637498
N-glycosylation; dolichol; polyprenol; SRD5A3
5.  Post mortem identification of deoxyguanosine kinase (DGUOK) gene mutations combined with impaired glucose homeostasis and iron overload features in four infants with severe progressive liver failure 
Journal of Applied Genetics  2010;52(1):61-66.
Deoxyguanosine kinase deficiency (dGK) is a frequent cause of the hepatocerebral form of mitochondrial depletion syndrome (MDS). A group of 28 infants with severe progressive liver failure of unknown cause was recruited for post mortem search for deoxyguanosine kinase (DGUOK) gene mutations. Four affected patients (14% of the studied group), two homozygotes, one compound heterozygote, and one heterozygote, with DGUOK mutation found on only one allele, were identified. Three known pathogenic mutations in the DGUOK gene were detected, c.3G>A (p.Met1Ile), c.494A>T (p.Glu165Val), and c.766_767insGATT (p.Phe256X), and one novel molecular variant of unknown pathogeneity, c.813_814insTTT (p.Asn271_Thr272insPhe). Profound mitochondrial DNA depletion was confirmed in available specimens of the liver (4%, 15%, and 10% of the normal value) and in the muscle (4%, 23%, 45%, and 6%, respectively). The patients were born with low weights for gestational age and they presented adaptation trouble during the first days of life. Subsequently, liver failure developed, leading to death at the ages of 18, 6, 5.5, and 2.25 months, respectively. Mild neurological involvement was observed in all children (hypotonia, psychomotor retardation, and ptosis). Hypoglycemia (hypoketotic) and lactic acidosis were the constant laboratory findings. Elevated transferrin saturation, high ferritin, and alpha-fetoprotein levels resembled, in two cases, a neonatal hemochromatosis. Liver histopathology showed severe hepatic damage ranging from micronodular formation and cirrhosis to the total loss of liver architecture with diffuse fibrosis and neocholangiolar proliferation. Pancreatic islet cell hyperplasia with numerous confluent giant islets was found in both autopsied infants. Analysis of the natural history of the disease in our patients and the literature data led us to the following observations: (i) islet cell hyperplasia (and hyperinsulinism) may contribute to MDS-associated hypoglycemia; (ii) iron overload may additionally damage mtDNA-depleted tissues; (iii) low birth weight, adaptation trouble, and abnormal amino acids in newborn screening are frequent in dGK-deficient neonates.
PMCID: PMC3026684  PMID: 21107780
DGUOK gene mutation; mtDNA depletion; Neonatal liver failure; Hypoglycemia; Iron overload; Natural history of the disease
6.  Cross-border healthcare? The Polish experience 
Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases  2010;5(Suppl 1):O29.
PMCID: PMC2958387

Results 1-6 (6)