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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome: the first malformation syndrome associated with defective cholesterol synthesis.

Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome (SLOS), an autosomal recessive condition with multiple malformations, mental retardation, and growth failure, results from markedly reduced activity of the final enzyme in the cholesterol biosynthetic pathway, 7-dehydrocholesterol reductase (DHCR7). Clinical signs vary in severity, ranging from fetal loss to holoprosencephaly with multiple malformations to isolated syndactyly. The biochemical defect in SLOS is a deficiency of DHCR7, which results in an abnormally low cholesterol level, and increased amounts of intermediates of sterol biosynthesis. Animal models currently exist through the use of cholesterol biosynthesis inhibitors, from which a great deal has been learned. Pregnant rats treated with inhibitors of DHCR7 yield pups that have abnormal sterol profiles and craniofacial abnormalities characteristic of severe SLOS. Biochemical testing of human patients can be performed using gas chromatography/ mass spectroscopy (GC/MS) to analyze the sterol content of tissues, amniotic fluid, or cell culture lysate. Numerous mutations have been identified in DHCR7 but seven individual mutations account for 67% of the total mutations reported in the literature. Clinical trials with SLOS are underway, with the goal of increasing the cholesterol concentration in the plasma and tissues through the administration of dietary cholesterol. Thus far, this approach has shown limited efficacy. Nevertheless, the recent identification of the biochemical and molecular genetic basis for SLOS is reason for optimism that the condition may one day yield to treatment.[1]


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