Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome

Expert Rev Mol Med. 2011 Jul 22;13:e24. doi: 10.1017/S146239941100189X.


Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome (SLOS) is an autosomal recessive, multiple congenital malformation and intellectual disability syndrome, with clinical characteristics that encompass a wide spectrum and great variability. Elucidation of the biochemical and genetic basis for SLOS, specifically understanding SLOS as a cholesterol deficiency syndrome caused by mutation in DHCR7, opened up enormous possibilities for therapeutic intervention. When cholesterol was discovered to be the activator of sonic hedgehog, cholesterol deficiency with inactivation of this developmental patterning gene was thought to be the cause of SLOS malformations, yet this explanation is overly simplistic. Despite these important research breakthroughs, there is no proven treatment for SLOS. Better animal models are needed to allow potential treatment testing and the study of disease pathophysiology, which is incompletely understood. Creation of human cellular models, especially models of brain cells, would be useful, and in vivo human studies are also essential. Biomarker development will be crucial in facilitating clinical trials in this rare condition, because the clinical phenotype can change over many years. Additional research in these and other areas is critical if we are to make headway towards ameliorating the effects of this devastating condition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cholesterol / metabolism*
  • Dehydrocholesterols / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mutation
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-CH Group Donors / deficiency*
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-CH Group Donors / genetics
  • Rats
  • Smith-Lemli-Opitz Syndrome* / genetics
  • Smith-Lemli-Opitz Syndrome* / physiopathology
  • Smith-Lemli-Opitz Syndrome* / therapy


  • Dehydrocholesterols
  • Cholesterol
  • 7-dehydrocholesterol
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-CH Group Donors
  • 7-dehydrocholesterol reductase