Background: Butyrylcholinesterase (BCHE) deficiency is characterized by prolonged apnea after the use of certain muscle relaxants with the genetic defect lying in the BCHE gene.
Methods: Two Chinese patients with no serum BCHE activity were studied. The BCHE genes were screened for mutations by polymerase chain reaction and direct DNA sequencing.
Results: Of the four mutations detected, two novel mutations were identified in the two patients, i.e., F474L, and an insertion of an adenine between nucleotide positions 395 and 396. This information was used to screen the immediate families of the patients for carrier status.
Conclusions: We established the molecular basis of butyrylcholinesterase deficiency in two Chinese patients. The developed mutation detection assay provides a reliable method for identifying mutant BCHE carriers.