Successful diagnosis of HIBCH deficiency from exome sequencing and positive retrospective analysis of newborn screening cards in two siblings presenting with Leigh's disease

Mol Genet Metab. 2015 Aug;115(4):161-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ymgme.2015.05.008. Epub 2015 May 15.


Purpose: 3-Hydroxyisobutryl-CoA hydrolase (HIBCH) deficiency is a rare disorder of valine metabolism. We present a family with the oldest reported subjects with HIBCH deficiency and provide support that HIBCH deficiency should be included in the differential for elevated hydroxy-C4-carnitine in newborn screening (NBS).

Methods: Whole exome sequencing (WES) was performed on one affected sibling. HIBCH enzymatic activity was measured in patient fibroblasts. Acylcarnitines were measured by electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry (ESI-MS/MS). Disease incidence was estimated using a cohort of 61,434 individuals.

Results: Two siblings presented with infantile-onset, progressive neurodegenerative disease. WES identified a novel homozygous variant in HIBCH c.196C>T; p.Arg66Trp. HIBCH enzymatic activity was significantly reduced in patients' fibroblasts. Acylcarnitine analysis showed elevated hydroxy-C4-carnitine in blood spots of both affected siblings, including in their NBS cards, while plasma acylcarnitines were normal. Estimates show HIBCH deficiency incidence as high as 1 in ~130,000 individuals.

Conclusion: We describe a novel family with HIBCH deficiency at the biochemical, enzymatic and molecular level. Disease incidence estimates indicate HIBCH deficiency may be under-diagnosed. This together with the elevated hydroxy-C4-carnitine found in the retrospective analysis of our patient's NBS cards suggests that this disorder could be screened for by NBS programs and should be added to the differential diagnosis for elevated hydroxy-C4-carnitine which is already measured in most NBS programs using MS/MS.

Keywords: HIBCH deficiency; Hydroxy-C4-carnitine; Leigh syndrome; Newborn screening; Valine metabolism.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Multiple / diagnosis*
  • Abnormalities, Multiple / metabolism
  • Adolescent
  • Amino Acid Metabolism, Inborn Errors / diagnosis*
  • Amino Acid Metabolism, Inborn Errors / metabolism
  • Carnitine / analogs & derivatives
  • Carnitine / metabolism
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Exome
  • Female
  • Fibroblasts / enzymology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Leigh Disease / enzymology
  • Leigh Disease / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Neonatal Screening*
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Siblings
  • Thiolester Hydrolases / chemistry
  • Thiolester Hydrolases / deficiency*
  • Thiolester Hydrolases / metabolism


  • hydroxybutyrylcarnitine
  • Thiolester Hydrolases
  • Carnitine

Supplementary concepts

  • Beta-Hydroxyisobutyryl CoA Deacylase Deficiency