Carnitine-acylcarnitine translocase deficiency, clinical, biochemical and genetic aspects.

M.E. Rubio-Gozalbo*, J.A. Bakker, H.R. Waterham, R.J. Wanders

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Carnitine-acylcarnitine translocase deficiency, clinical, biochemical and genetic aspects.

Rubio-Gozalbo ME, Bakker JA, Waterham HR, Wanders RJ.

Department of Pediatrics, University Hospital Maastricht, Maastricht, The Netherlands. [email protected]

The carnitine-acylcarnitine translocase (CACT) is one of the components of the carnitine cycle. The carnitine cycle is necessary to shuttle long-chain fatty acids from the cytosol into the intramitochondrial space where mitochondrial beta-oxidation of fatty acids takes place. The oxidation of fatty acids yields acetyl-coenzyme A (CoA) units, which may either be degraded to CO(2) and H(2)O in the citric acid cycle to produce ATP or converted into ketone bodies which occurs in liver and kidneys. Metabolic consequences of a defective CACT are hypoketotic hypoglycaemia under fasting conditions, hyperammonemia, elevated creatine kinase and transaminases, dicarboxylic aciduria, very low free carnitine and an abnormal acylcarnitine profile with marked elevation of the long-chain acylcarnitines. Clinical signs and symptoms in CACT deficient patients, are a combination of energy depletion and endogenous toxicity. The predominantly affected organs are brain, heart and skeletal muscle, and liver, leading to neurological abnormalities, cardiomyopathy and arrythmias, skeletal muscle damage and liver dysfunction. Most patients become symptomatic in the neonatal period with a rapidly progressive deterioration and a high mortality rate. However, presentations at a later age with a milder phenotype have also been reported. The therapeutic approach is the same as in other long-chain fatty acid disorders and includes intravenous glucose (+/- insulin) administration to maximally inhibit lipolysis and subsequent fatty acid oxidation during the acute deterioration, along with other measures such as ammonia detoxification, depending on the clinical features. Long-term strategy consists of avoidance of fasting with frequent meals and a special diet with restriction of long-chain fatty acids. Due to the extremely low free carnitine concentrations, carnitine supplementation is often needed. Acylcarnitine profiling in plasma is the assay of choice for the diagnosis at a metabolite level. However, since the acylcarnitine profile observed in CACT-deficient patients is identical to that in CPT2-deficient patients, definitive identification of CACT-deficiency in a certain patient requires determination of the activity of CACT. Subsequently, mutational analysis of the CACT gene can be performed. So far, 9 different mutations have been identified in the CACT gene.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)521-532
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular Aspects of Medicine
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004


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