Objective: D-bifunctional protein deficiency is an autosomal recessive inborn error of peroxisomal fatty acid oxidation. Although case reports and small series of patients have been published, these do not give a complete and balanced picture of the clinical and biochemical spectrum associated with this disorder.
Methods: To improve early recognition, diagnosis, prognosis, and management of this disorder and to provide markers for life expectancy, we performed extensive biochemical studies in a large cohort of D-bifunctional protein-deficient patients and sent out questionnaires about clinical signs and symptoms to the responsible physicians.
Results: Virtually all children presented with neonatal hypotonia and seizures and died within the first 2 years of life without achieving any developmental milestones. However, within our cohort, 12 patients survived beyond the age of 2 years, and detailed information on 5 patients with prolonged survival (> or =7.5 years) is provided.
Interpretation: Biochemical analyses showed that there is a clear correlation between several biochemical parameters and survival of the patient, with C26:0 beta-oxidation activity in cultured skin fibroblasts being the best predictive marker for life expectancy. Remarkably, three patients were identified without biochemical abnormalities in plasma, stressing that D-bifunctional protein deficiency cannot be excluded when all peroxisomal parameters in plasma are normal.