OBJECTIVE. Neonatal screening programs for very long-chain acyl-coenzyme A dehydrogenase deficiency have been implemented recently in various countries. Mildly elevated C14:1-carnitine on day 3 of life strongly suggests very long-chain acyl-coenzyme A dehydrogenase deficiency.

DESIGN. We characterized 11 neonates with elevated C14:1-carnitine by enzyme and molecular analyses. Palmitoyl-coenzyme A oxidation was measured in lymphocytes. Sequencing of all 20 exons of the VLCAD gene was performed from genomic DNA.

RESULTS. Palmitoyl-coenzyme A oxidation revealed significantly decreased residual activities consistent with very long-chain acyl-coenzyme A dehydrogenase deficiency in 7 neonates. In 2 individuals, residual activities of 48% and 44%, respectively, suggested heterozygosity. Two disease-causing mutations were detected in 6 of 7 neonates with very long-chain acyl-coenzyme A dehydrogenase deficiency; in the remaining 1 patient, only 1 mutation was identified. Of 2 individuals with residual activities consistent with heterozygosity, 1 was heterozygous for a VLCAD mutation. The other child and both individuals with normal palmitoyl-coenzyme A oxidation had normal genotypes.

CONCLUSIONS. In 4 of 11 neonates identified with elevated C14:1-carnitine, very long-chain acyl-coenzyme A dehydrogenase deficiency was excluded. A C14:1-carnitine level >1 μmol/L strongly suggests very long-chain acyl-coenzyme A dehydrogenase deficiency, whereas concentrations ≤1 μmol/L do not allow a clear discrimination among affected patients, carriers, and healthy individuals. Further diagnostic evaluation, including enzyme and molecular analyses, is essential to identify very long-chain acyl-coenzyme A dehydrogenase deficiency correctly.

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