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To extend the enzyme deficiency in Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome (SLOS) to extrahepatic tissues, 7-dehydrocholesterol-delta 7-reductase activity was measured in fibroblasts from 10 controls, five SLOS homozygotes, and five obligate heterozygotes. In cells grown almost to confluence in cholesterol-containing medium (4 mg/dL), the conversion of [1,2-3H]7-dehydrocholesterol to cholesterol (7-dehydrocholesterol-delta 7-reductase activity) was 3.8 times higher in control than in homozygote cells and 2.2 times higher than in heterozygote cells. After 24 hours' exposure of the fibroblasts to cholesterol-deficient medium supplemented with lovastatin, 7-dehydrocholesterol-delta 7-reductase activity increased twofold in controls, but did not change significantly in either heterozygous or homozygous cells. In contrast, the activities of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase and lathosterol 5-dehydrogenase, two key enzymes that precede 7-dehydrocholesterol-delta 7-reductase in the cholesterol biosynthetic pathway, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor-mediated binding were equal in control, homozygote, and heterozygote fibroblasts. Further, HMG-CoA reductase activity and LDL receptor-mediated binding increased after exposure of the cells to cholesterol-deficient medium. Fibroblast cholesterol concentrations were approximately equal, although homozygote cells contained 30 times more 7-dehydrocholesterol. Thus, markedly reduced 7-dehydrocholesterol-delta 7-reductase activity that cannot be upregulated after exposure of the cells to cholesterol-deficient medium is diagnostic for the biochemical defect in SLOS. Significantly reduced enzyme activity between the levels in controls and homozygotes without accumulation of 7-dehydrocholesterol in fibroblasts identified heterozygotes.


S Shefer, G Salen, A Honda, A Batta, S Hauser, G S Tint, M Honda, T Chen, M F Holick, L B Nguyen. Rapid identification of Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome homozygotes and heterozygotes (carriers) by measurement of deficient 7-dehydrocholesterol-delta 7-reductase activity in fibroblasts. Metabolism: clinical and experimental. 1997 Jul;46(7):844-50

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PMID: 9225842

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