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Gastroenterology. 2013 Jul;145(1):138-48. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2013.03.048. Epub 2013 Apr 2.

Congenital proprotein convertase 1/3 deficiency causes malabsorptive diarrhea and other endocrinopathies in a pediatric cohort.

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Department of Pediatrics, Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition, Mattel Children's Hospital, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA.



Proprotein convertase 1/3 (PC1/3) deficiency, an autosomal-recessive disorder caused by rare mutations in the proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 1 (PCSK1) gene, has been associated with obesity, severe malabsorptive diarrhea, and certain endocrine abnormalities. Common variants in PCSK1 also have been associated with obesity in heterozygotes in several population-based studies. PC1/3 is an endoprotease that processes many prohormones expressed in endocrine and neuronal cells. We investigated clinical and molecular features of PC1/3 deficiency.


We studied the clinical features of 13 children with PC1/3 deficiency and performed sequence analysis of PCSK1. We measured enzymatic activity of recombinant PC1/3 proteins.


We identified a pattern of endocrinopathies that develop in an age-dependent manner. Eight of the mutations had severe biochemical consequences in vitro. Neonates had severe malabsorptive diarrhea and failure to thrive, required prolonged parenteral nutrition support, and had high mortality. Additional endocrine abnormalities developed as the disease progressed, including diabetes insipidus, growth hormone deficiency, primary hypogonadism, adrenal insufficiency, and hypothyroidism. We identified growth hormone deficiency, central diabetes insipidus, and male hypogonadism as new features of PCSK1 insufficiency. Interestingly, despite early growth abnormalities, moderate obesity, associated with severe polyphagia, generally appears.


In a study of 13 children with PC1/3 deficiency caused by disruption of PCSK1, failure of enteroendocrine cells to produce functional hormones resulted in generalized malabsorption. These findings indicate that PC1/3 is involved in the processing of one or more enteric hormones that are required for nutrient absorption.

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