Case Study

Neonatal presentation of a patient with Liddle syndrome, South Africa

Nicolene Steyn, Bettina Chale-Matsau, Aron B. Abera, Gertruida van Biljon, Tahir S. Pillay
African Journal of Laboratory Medicine | Vol 12, No 1 | a1998 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajlm.v12i1.1998 | © 2023 Nicolene Steyn, Bettina Chale-Matsau, Aron B. Abera, Gertruida van Biljon, Tahir S. Pillay | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 June 2022 | Published: 14 April 2023

About the author(s)

Nicolene Steyn, Department of Chemical Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa; and, National Health Laboratory Service, Tshwane Academic Division, Pretoria, South Africa
Bettina Chale-Matsau, Department of Chemical Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa; and, National Health Laboratory Service, Tshwane Academic Division, Pretoria, South Africa
Aron B. Abera, Inqaba Biotechnical Industries (Pty) Ltd, Pretoria, South Africa
Gertruida van Biljon, National Health Laboratory Service, Tshwane Academic Division, Pretoria, South Africa; and, Division of Paediatric Nephrology, Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Tahir S. Pillay, Department of Chemical Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa; and, National Health Laboratory Service, Tshwane Academic Division, Pretoria, South Africa

Abstract

Introduction: Liddle syndrome is an autosomal dominantly inherited disorder usually arising from single mutations of the genes that encode for the alpha, beta and gamma epithelial sodium channel (ENaC) subunits. This leads to refractory hypertension, hypokalaemia, metabolic alkalosis, hyporeninaemia and hypoaldosteronism, through over-activation of the ENaC.

Case presentation: We describe a 5-day old neonate who presented with severe hypernatraemic dehydration requiring admission to Steve Biko Academic Hospital in South Africa in 2012. Further evaluation revealed features in keeping with Liddle syndrome. Two compound heterozygous mutations located at different subunits encoding the ENaC were detected following genetic sequencing done in 2020. The severe clinical phenotype observed here could be attributed to the synergistic effect of these known pathological mutations, but may also indicate that one of the other variants detected has hitherto undocumented pathological effects.

Management and outcome: This child’s treatment course was complicated by poor adherence to therapy, requiring numerous admissions over the years. Adequate blood pressure control was achieved only after the addition of amiloride at the end of 2018, which raised the suspicion of an ENaC abnormality.

Conclusion: To our knowledge, this is the first Liddle syndrome case where a combined effect from mutations resulted in severe disease. This highlights the importance of early recognition and management of this highly treatable genetic disease to prevent the grave sequelae associated with long-standing hypertension. Whole exome sequencing may assist in the detection of known mutations, but may also unveil new potentially pathological variants.

What this study adds: This study highlights the importance of developing a high index of suspicion of tubulopathy such as Liddle syndrome for any child presenting with persistent hypertension associated with hypokalaemic metabolic alkalosis.

 


Keywords

Liddle syndrome; epithelial sodium channels; genetic sequencing; hypertension; hyporeninaemia; hypoaldosteronism.

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