Clinical, fluorine-18 labeled 2-fluoro-2-deoxyglucose positron emission tomography of the brain, MR spectroscopy, and therapeutic attempts in methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase deficiency.
The cases of three infants, two Saudi and one Bahraini, with methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) deficiency are reported. They presented in the neonatal period with lethargy, poor feeding, hypotonia, and frequent apneas. Tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) of a blood spot indicated very low methionine level and of urine revealed high homocysteine. The diagnosis was confirmed by demonstrating severe deficiency of MTHFR in the cultured skin fibroblast. All patients were treated with folinic acid, vitamin B12, betaine, and methionine, with good initial response to the therapy. In two patients, the diagnosis was late and their disease was severe, resulting in neurological crippling. However, in the third patient, who was diagnosed and treated early, the current neurological status is normal. In her case, at 1 month of age, the brain FDG PET scan documented very faint cerebral and cerebellar cortical activities. After 5 months of intensive therapy, that included 200-600 mg/kg per day methionine, she had a dramatic clinical and biochemical recovery as well as a parallel improvement in FDG PET. Brain MR spectroscopy indicated normal neuronal glial and myelin markers for her age. We conclude that the functional changes confirmed by the FDG PET study were better correlated with the clinical course of the patient and adequately monitored the response to therapy. This disease warrants early detection through neonatal screening program, since the beneficial effect of early administration of adequate therapy with combined use of betaine and a high dose of methionine is rewarding and may be the treatment of choice for MTHFR deficiency.