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Semin Perinatol. 1999 Apr;23(2):100-12.

Inherited long-chain 3-hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency and a fetal-maternal interaction cause maternal liver disease and other pregnancy complications.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis Children's Hospital, MO, USA.


Fetal-maternal interactions are critical determinants of maternal health during pregnancy and perinatal outcome. This review explores the causative relationship of a fetal disorder of mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation, long-chain 3-hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenase (LCHAD) deficiency, and the serious maternal liver diseases of pregnancy-preeclampsia, the HELLP syndrome (hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet counts), and acute fatty liver of pregnancy. Features of the metabolic adaptation necessitated during the fetal-neonatal transition; common phenotypes of pediatric fatty acid oxidation disorders, including neonatal hypoketotic, hypoglycemia and hepatic crisis; and clinical abnormalities of HELLP and acute fatty liver of pregnancy are presented. Evidence that a common mutation in the alpha-subunit (LCHAD) of trifunctional protein, E474Q, is always one of the mutant alleles in fetal isolated LCHAD deficiency associated with these disorders of pregnancy that cause high maternal, fetal, and newborn morbidity and mortality is reviewed. Recommendations for molecular testing for LCHAD deficiency in families with life-threatening maternal liver disease are given.

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