Clinical presentation and outcome of riboflavin transporter deficiency: mini review after five years of experience

J Inherit Metab Dis. 2016 Jul;39(4):559-64. doi: 10.1007/s10545-016-9924-2. Epub 2016 Mar 14.


Introduction: Riboflavin (vitamin B2) is absorbed in the small intestine by the human riboflavin transporters RFVT1 and RFVT3. A third riboflavin transporter (RFVT2) is expressed in the brain. In 2010 it was demonstrated that mutations in the riboflavin transporter genes SLC52A2 (coding for RFVT2) and SLC52A3 (coding for RFVT3) cause a neurodegenerative disorder formerly known as Brown-Vialetto-Van Laere (BVVL) syndrome, now renamed to riboflavin transporter deficiency. Five years after the diagnosis of the first patient we performed a review of the literature to study the presentation, treatment and outcome of patients with a molecularly confirmed diagnosis of a riboflavin transporter deficiency.

Method: A search was performed in Medline, Pubmed using the search terms 'Brown-Vialetto-Van Laere syndrome' and 'riboflavin transporter' and articles were screened for case reports of patients with a molecular diagnosis of a riboflavin transporter deficiency.

Results: Reports on a total of 70 patients with a molecular diagnosis of a RFVT2 or RTVT3 deficiency were retrieved. The riboflavin transporter deficiencies present with weakness, cranial nerve deficits including hearing loss, sensory symptoms including sensory ataxia, feeding difficulties and respiratory difficulties which are caused by a sensorimotor axonal neuropathy and cranial neuropathy. Biochemical abnormalities may be absent and the diagnosis can only be made or rejected by molecular analysis of all genes. Treatment with oral supplementation of riboflavin is lifesaving. Therefore, if a riboflavin transporter deficiency is suspected, treatment must be started immediately without first awaiting the results of molecular diagnostics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bulbar Palsy, Progressive / diagnosis*
  • Bulbar Palsy, Progressive / genetics
  • Bulbar Palsy, Progressive / therapy
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / diagnosis*
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / genetics
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / therapy
  • Humans
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Molecular Diagnostic Techniques
  • Mutation
  • Prognosis
  • Riboflavin Deficiency / diagnosis*
  • Riboflavin Deficiency / genetics
  • Riboflavin Deficiency / therapy


  • Membrane Transport Proteins

Supplementary concepts

  • Brown-Vialetto-Van Laere syndrome