Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome (SLOS) is a common autosomal recessive disorder. Children with SLOS present with specific facial dysmorphism and have multiple congenital anomalies including cleft palate, congenital heart disease, genitourinary anomalies, and limb abnormalities. They also manifest severe failure to thrive and mental retardation. A metabolic defect at the final step in the cholesterol biosynthetic pathway has been described in SLOS patients. This defect results in markedly reduced cholesterol levels and abnormal accumulation of cholesterol precursors, particularly 7- dehydrocholesterol. This newly described metabolic defect in humans is one of only a few metabolic errors known to cause multiple birth defects. The biochemical profile of reduced plasma cholesterol levels in association with markedly elevated levels of the cholesterol precursor 7-dehydrocholesterol is now used to confirm the diagnosis of SLOS, which was formerly made on purely clinical grounds. This biochemical abnormality has been confirmed in dozens of patients with SLOS in both the United States and Europe. The severe cholesterol deficiency seen in these patients has multiple effects on health and early childhood development, because cholesterol is an essential component of many cell functions, which explains many of the clinical findings seen in SLOS.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health