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      The Genetics of Neonatal Hyperinsulinism

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          Congenital hyperinsulinism (CHI) is the most important cause of persistent hypoglycaemia in the neonate and infant. It is a clinically and genetically heterogeneous entity. The clinical heterogeneity is manifested by severity ranging from extremely severe life-threatening disease to very mild clinical symptoms which may even be difficult to identify. Furthermore, clinical responsiveness to medical and surgical management is extremely variable. Two histopathological forms have been described: a diffuse form of CHI and a focal form of CHI. Recent discoveries have begun to clarify the molecular aetiology of the disease and therefore the mechanisms responsible for its clinical heterogeneity are becoming clearer. Mutations in four different genes have been identified in patients with CHI. Most cases are caused by mutations in genes coding for either of the two subunits of the β-cell K<sub>ATP</sub> channel ( ABCC8 and KCNJ11). In the diffuse form of CHI, the hyperinsulinism is due to a recessive mutation of both alleles of these genes (rare dominant mutations have been described). In the focal form of CHI, two events intervene: first, the inheritance of a paternal ABCC8/ KCNJ11 mutation; second, the focal reduction to homozygosity of the mutation during pancreatic development by a localized loss of the maternal 11p15 region. Others cases of CHI are due to rare mutations in the β-cell enzymes glucokinase (only one family described) and glutamate dehydrogenase in hyperammonaemia-associated hyperinsulinism. However, in as many as 50% of cases, no genetic aetiology has yet been identified.

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          Hyperinsulinism and hyperammonemia in infants with regulatory mutations of the glutamate dehydrogenase gene.

          A new form of congenital hyperinsulinism characterized by hypoglycemia and hyperammonemia was described recently. We hypothesized that this syndrome of hyperinsulinism and hyperammonemia was caused by excessive activity of glutamate dehydrogenase, which oxidizes glutamate to alpha-ketoglutarate and which is a potential regulator of insulin secretion in pancreatic beta cells and of ureagenesis in the liver. We measured glutamate dehydrogenase activity in lymphoblasts from eight unrelated children with the hyperinsulinism-hyperammonemia syndrome: six with sporadic cases and two with familial cases. We identified mutations in the glutamate dehydrogenase gene by sequencing glutamate dehydrogenase complementary DNA prepared from lymphoblast messenger RNA. Site-directed mutagenesis was used to express the mutations in COS-7 cells. The sensitivity of glutamate dehydrogenase to inhibition by guanosine 5'-triphosphate was a quarter of the normal level in the patients with sporadic hyperinsulinism-hyperammonemia syndrome and half the normal level in patients with familial cases and their affected relatives, findings consistent with overactivity of the enzyme. These differences in enzyme insensitivity correlated with differences in the severity of hypoglycemia in the two groups. All eight children were heterozygous for the wild-type allele and had a mutation in the proposed allosteric domain of the enzyme. Four different mutations were identified in the six patients with sporadic cases; the two patients with familial cases shared a fifth mutation. In two clones of COS-7 cells transfected with the mutant sequence from one patient, the sensitivity of the enzyme to guanosine 5'-triphosphate was reduced, findings similar to those in the child's lymphoblasts. The hyperinsulinism-hyperammonemia syndrome is caused by mutations in the glutamate dehydrogenase gene that impair the control of enzyme activity.
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            Familial hyperinsulinism caused by an activating glucokinase mutation.

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              Clinical features of 52 neonates with hyperinsulinism.

              Neonatal hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemia is often resistant to medical therapy and is often treated with near-total pancreatectomy. However, the pancreatic lesions may be focal and treatable by partial pancreatic resection. We studied 52 neonates with hyperinsulinism who were treated surgically. The type and location of the pancreatic lesions were determined by preoperative pancreatic catheterization and intraoperative histologic studies. Partial pancreatectomy was performed in infants with focal lesions, and near-total pancreatectomy was performed in those with diffuse lesions. The postoperative outcome was determined by measurements of plasma glucose and glycosylated hemoglobin and by oral glucose-tolerance tests. Thirty neonates had diffuse beta-cell hyperfunction, and 22 had focal adenomatous islet-cell hyperplasia. Among the latter, the lesions were in the head of the pancreas in nine, the isthmus in three, the body in eight, and the tail in two. The clinical manifestations were similar in both groups. The infants with focal lesions had no symptoms of hypoglycemia and had normal preprandial and postprandial plasma glucose and glycosylated hemoglobin values and normal results on oral glucose-tolerance tests after partial pancreatectomy (performed in 19 of 22 neonates). By contrast, after near-total pancreatectomy, 13 of the patients with diffuse lesions had persistent hypoglycemia, type 1 diabetes mellitus developed in 8, and hyperglycemia developed in another 7; overall, only 2 patients with diffuse lesions had normal plasma glucose concentrations in the first year after surgery. Among neonates with hyperinsulinism, about half may have focal islet-cell hyperplasia that can be treated with partial pancreatectomy. These neonates can be identified through pancreatic catheterization and intraoperative histologic studies.

                Author and article information

                Horm Res Paediatr
                Hormone Research in Paediatrics
                S. Karger AG
                January 2003
                17 November 2004
                : 59
                : Suppl 1
                : 30-34
                INSERM Unité 383 ‘Génétique, Chromosome et Cancer’, Hôpital des Enfants Malades, Paris, France
                67842 Horm Res 2003;59(suppl 1):30–34
                © 2003 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                References: 20, Pages: 5
                The Neonate and Endocrine Disease


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