Biochemical variants of Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome

Am J Med Genet. 1999 Aug 27;85(5):517-23. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1096-8628(19990827)85:5<517::aid-ajmg18>;2-1.


Smith-Lemli-Opitz (SLO or RSH) syndrome is characterized by multiple congenital anomalies, mental retardation, and defective growth; it results from an inherited defect in the biosynthesis of cholesterol. Patients have elevated plasma concentrations of 7-dehydrocholesterol, the immediate biosynthetic precursor of cholesterol and most also have low circulating levels of cholesterol. To understand better the biochemical basis of clinical variability, we evaluated cholesterol biosynthesis in lymphoblasts from 3 unrelated SLOS patients with distinct phenotypes. One patient has "type I SLOS", the second has the more severe "type II SLOS" and the third is classified as atypical and had been postulated to have a defect in sterol transport. The lymphoblasts of each patient show normal subcellular localization of cholesterol and 7-dehydrocholesterol by gradient fractionation. Biochemical differences in the ability of the lymphoblasts to convert 7-dehydrocholesterol to cholesterol are described and correspond to the severity of disease (type II > type I > atypical). Recently, the gene responsible for most SLOS cases (DHCR7) was mapped to chromosome 11 and mutations in DHCR7 were found in each of these patients. The biochemical differences described here likely result from the different mutations observed in DHCR7.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • 3-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenases / blood*
  • Acetates / blood
  • Cell Line
  • Cholesterol / biosynthesis
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Dehydrocholesterols / blood*
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Lymphocytes / pathology
  • Smith-Lemli-Opitz Syndrome / classification
  • Smith-Lemli-Opitz Syndrome / genetics*
  • Smith-Lemli-Opitz Syndrome / metabolism*


  • Acetates
  • Dehydrocholesterols
  • Cholesterol
  • 7-dehydrocholesterol
  • 3-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenases