Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases
Adolescence/adult onset MTHFR deficiency may manifest as isolated and treatable distinct neuro-psychiatric syndromes
Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases201813:29
© The Author(s). 2018
Published: 1 February 2018
5,10-Methylene-tetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) deficiency is a genetic disorder that can occur at any age and can be easily detected by increased homocysteinemia. In adolescence/adult onset forms, the clinical picture is often complex with association of various neurological features and thrombosis.
Here we report the cases of two adult siblings who experienced focal epilepsy at 18 years old as a first disease manifestation, without other symptom during several years. Upon diagnosis, both patients received metabolic treatment comprising B9, B12 and betaine which has stopped the occurrence of seizures, allowing discontinuation of anti-epileptic drugs.
Among 24 reviewed adolescent/adult onset patients with MTHFR deficiency in the literature, clinical manifestations included gait disorder (96%, from motor central or peripheral origin), cognitive decline (74%), epileptic syndromes (50%), encephalopathy (30%), psychotic symptoms (17%), and thrombotic events (21%). A total of 41% presented a single neurological manifestation that could stay isolated during at least 3 years, delaying achievement of the diagnosis. Brain MRI showed a mostly periventricular white matter changes in 71% of cases. All patients stabilized or improved following metabolic treatment.
Despite being rare, adolescence/adult onset MTHFR deficiency can nevertheless be successfully treated. Therefore, homocysteinemia should be tested in various unexplained neuro-psychiatric syndromes like epilepsy or spastic paraparesis, even if isolated, since waiting for completion of the clinical picture is likely to increase the risk of irreversible neurological damage.
Metabolic diseaseClinical neurology examinationAll epilepsy/seizuresGait disorders/ataxiaMRI