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Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of chylomicron retention disease based on a review of the literature and the experience of two centers

Noel Peretti13, Agnès Sassolas24, Claude C Roy5, Colette Deslandres5, Mathilde Charcosset24, Justine Castagnetti23, Laurence Pugnet-Chardon3, Philippe Moulin2, Sylvie Labarge3, Lise Bouthillier5, Alain Lachaux3 and Emile Levy1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Nutrition, CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center, Université de Montréal, 3175, Ste-Catherine Road, Montreal, Quebec, H3T 1C5, Canada

2 Université Lyon 1; UMR 870, INSERM 8-870, INRA U-1235, Hospices Civils de Lyon, Lyon F-69002, France

3 Department of Nutrition-Hepatogastroenterology, Hôpital Femme Mère Enfant, Bron, Université Lyon 1, Lyon F-69003, France

4 UF Dyslipidemia Laboratory, Centre de Biologie Est, Biochemistry Laboratory, and Department of Endocrinology, Hôpital Neurologique et Cardiologique, Hospices Civils de Lyon, Lyon F-69003, France

5 Department of Pediatrics, CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center, Université de Montréal, 3175, Ste-Catherine Road, Montreal, Quebec, H3T 1C5, Canada

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Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases 2010, 5:24  doi:10.1186/1750-1172-5-24

Published: 29 September 2010


Familial hypocholesterolemia, namely abetalipoproteinemia, hypobetalipoproteinemia and chylomicron retention disease (CRD), are rare genetic diseases that cause malnutrition, failure to thrive, growth failure and vitamin E deficiency, as well as other complications. Recently, the gene implicated in CRD was identified. The diagnosis is often delayed because symptoms are nonspecific. Treatment and follow-up remain poorly defined.

The aim of this paper is to provide guidelines for the diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of children with CRD based on a literature overview and two pediatric centers 'experience.

The diagnosis is based on a history of chronic diarrhea with fat malabsorption and abnormal lipid profile. Upper endoscopy and histology reveal fat-laden enterocytes whereas vitamin E deficiency is invariably present. Creatine kinase (CK) is usually elevated and hepatic steatosis is common. Genotyping identifies the Sar1b gene mutation.

Treatment should be aimed at preventing potential complications. Vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal distension improve on a low-long chain fat diet. Failure to thrive is one of the most common initial clinical findings. Neurological and ophthalmologic complications in CRD are less severe than in other types of familial hypocholesterolemia. However, the vitamin E deficiency status plays a pivotal role in preventing neurological complications. Essential fatty acid (EFA) deficiency is especially severe early in life. Recently, increased CK levels and cardiomyopathy have been described in addition to muscular manifestations. Poor mineralization and delayed bone maturation do occur. A moderate degree of macrovesicular steatosis is common, but no cases of steatohepatitis cirrhosis.

Besides a low-long chain fat diet made up uniquely of polyunsaturated fatty acids, treatment includes fat-soluble vitamin supplements and large amounts of vitamin E. Despite fat malabsorption and the absence of postprandial chylomicrons, the oral route can prevent neurological complications even though serum levels of vitamin E remain chronically low. Dietary counseling is needed not only to monitor fat intake and improve symptoms, but also to maintain sufficient caloric and EFA intake.

Despite a better understanding of the pathogenesis of CRD, the diagnosis and management of the disease remain a challenge for clinicians. The clinical guidelines proposed will helpfully lead to an earlier diagnosis and the prevention of complications.