Pyruvate carboxylase (PC) deficiency is a rare neuro-metabolic disorder characterized by metabolic acidosis, failure to thrive, developmental delay, and recurrent seizures at an early age in severely affected patients.
The overall prevalence of PC deficiency is not known and annual incidence has been reported to be 1/250,000 births. The disorder affects males and females equally.
Three clinical presentations of PC deficiency, probably constituting a continuum, have been described: infantile PC deficiency, type A; severe neonatal PC deficiency, type B; and intermittent/benign PC deficiency, type C (see these terms). The only common feature is metabolic acidosis. Type A (infantile form) is characterized by infantile onset, generally with a severe course. Type B has a very severe course with a fatal outcome in early infancy, and Type C involves only episodic metabolic acidosis.
PC deficiency is caused by mutations in the PC gene (11q13.4-q13.5), involved in conversion of pyruvate to oxaloacetate, an intermediate in the citric acid cycle and gluconeogenesis. Pyruvate carboxylase also participates in a wide range of other metabolic processes. Most cases are familial but some de novo mutations have been reported. Genotype-phenotype correlations have not been clearly established but missense mutations appear to be associatedwith infantile PC deficiency (Type A), while truncating mutations are more common in patients with the severe neonatal form (Type B).
PC deficiency may be suspected in patients with the non-specific clinical signs of the condition. Diagnosis is based on detection of characteristic laboratory test abnormalities in amino acid, organic acid, glucose, and ammonia serum concentrations. A PC enzyme activity assay demonstrating deficiency of the PC enzyme in fibroblasts is also diagnostic, along with mutations in the PC gene identified via molecular genetic testing.
Several inborn errors of metabolism have some features similar to those of PC deficiency.Similar disorders to consider in differential diagnosis include biotinidase deficiency, holocarboxylase synthase deficiency pyruvate dehydrogenase deficiency (see these terms), as well as respiratory chain disorders, Krebs cycle disorders (see these terms), and gluconeogenic defects.
Prenatal testing for pregnancies at increased risk is possible and requires identification of both disease-causing alleles in an affected family member.
PC deficiency follows anautosomal recessive pattern of inheritance. Genetic counseling should be provided to affected families, particularly regarding the risk of recurrence in subsequent pregnancies.
The aim of treatment is to provide alternative energy sources and to correct acute metabolic acidosis. Other management and treatment options depend on the type of PC deficiency. Current symptomatic and supportive treatments are generally ineffective.
Type A patients usually die in infancy or early childhood. Type B mostly has a fatal outcome within the first three months of life. Type C is mostly a benign form of the disorder with little or no effect on life-expectancy.
Last update: November 2013
- Dr Darryl DE VIVO
- Dr Dong WANG