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JIMD Rep. 2012;2:87-90. doi: 10.1007/8904_2011_52. Epub 2011 Sep 6.

Primary Carnitine Deficiency Presents Atypically with Long QT Syndrome: A Case Report.

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Greenwood Genetic Center, 106 G. Mendel Circle, Greenwood, SC, 29646, USA,


Primary carnitine deficiency (PCD) is an autosomal recessive disorder of fatty acid oxidation caused by mutations in the SLC22A5 gene encoding for the carnitine transporter OCTN2. Carnitine uptake deficiency results in renal carnitine wasting and low plasma levels. PCD usually presents early in life either with acute metabolic crisis or as progressive cardiomyopathy that responds to carnitine supplementation. PCD inclusion in the newborn screening (NBS) programs has led to the identification of asymptomatic adult patients ascertained because of a positive NBS in their offspring. We extensively reviewed the literature and found that 15 of 42 adult published cases (35.7%) were symptomatic. Cardiac arrhythmias were present in five patients (12%). Here, we report the ascertainment and long-term follow-up of the first case of PCD presenting with long QT syndrome. The patient presented in her early twenties with a syncopal episode caused by ventricular tachycardia, and a prolonged QT interval. Arrhythmias were poorly controlled by pharmacologic therapy and a defibrillator was installed. Syncopal episodes escalated during her first pregnancy. A positive NBS in the patient's child suggested a carnitine uptake deficiency, which was confirmed by reduced carnitine transporter activity and by molecular testing. After starting carnitine supplementation, no further syncopal episodes have occurred and the QT interval returned to normal. As precaution, a low-dose metoprolol therapy and the defibrillator are still in place. Although rare, PCD should be ruled out as a cause of cardiac arrhythmias since oral carnitine supplementation is readily available and efficient.

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