SLC39A14 Deficiency

In: GeneReviews® [Internet]. Seattle (WA): University of Washington, Seattle; 1993.
[updated ].


Clinical characteristics: SLC39A14 deficiency is typically characterized by evidence of delay or loss of motor developmental milestones (e.g., delayed walking, gait disturbance) between ages six months and three years. Early in the disease course, children show axial hypotonia followed by dystonia, spasticity, dysarthria, bulbar dysfunction, and signs of parkinsonism including bradykinesia, hypomimia, and tremor. By the end of the first decade, they develop severe, generalized, pharmaco-resistant dystonia, limb contractures, and scoliosis, and lose independent ambulation. Cognitive impairment appears to be less prominent than motor disability. Some affected children have died in their first decade due to secondary complications such as respiratory infections. One individual with disease onset during the late teens has been reported, suggesting that milder adult presentation can occur.

Diagnosis/testing: The diagnosis of SLC39A14 deficiency is established in a proband with progressive dystonia-parkinsonism (often combined with other signs such as spasticity and parkinsonian features), characteristic neuroimaging findings, hypermanganesemia, and biallelic pathogenic (or likely pathogenic) variants in SLC39A14 identified on molecular genetic testing.

Management: Treatment of manifestations: Symptomatic treatment includes physiotherapy and orthopedic management to prevent contractures and maintain ambulation; use of adaptive aids (walker or wheelchair) for gait abnormalities; and use of assistive communication devices. Support by a speech-language pathologist, feeding specialist, and nutritionist to assure adequate nutrition and to reduce the risk of aspiration. When an adequate oral diet can no longer be maintained, gastrostomy tube placement should be considered. Antispasticity medications (baclofen and botulinum toxin) and L-dopa have had limited success. While chelation therapy with intravenous administration of disodium calcium edetate early in the disease course shows promise, additional studies are warranted.

Prevention of primary manifestations: Unknown, but disodium calcium edetate chelation therapy shows promise; additional studies are warranted.

Surveillance: At each visit assess growth, swallowing, and diet to assure adequate nutrition; assess development including ambulation and speech; neurologic examination including scoring of movement disorder severity; consider whole-blood manganese levels and brain MRI as available to assess treatment response and disease progression.

Agents/circumstances to avoid:

  1. Environmental manganese exposure (i.e., contaminated drinking water, occupational manganese exposure in welding/mining industries, contaminated ephedrone preparations)

  2. High manganese content of total parenteral nutrition

  3. Foods very high in manganese including: cloves; saffron; nuts; mussels; dark chocolate; pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds

Evaluation of relatives at risk: Molecular genetic testing for the familial SLC39A14 pathogenic variants of apparently asymptomatic younger sibs of an affected individual allows early identification of sibs who would benefit from prompt initiation of treatment and preventive measures.

Genetic counseling: SLC39A14 deficiency is inherited in an autosomal recessive manner. Heterozygotes (carriers) are asymptomatic and are not at risk of developing the disorder. At conception, each sib of an affected individual has a 25% chance of being affected, a 50% chance of being an asymptomatic carrier, and a 25% chance of being unaffected and not a carrier. Once the SLC39A14 pathogenic variants have been identified in an affected family member, carrier testing of at-risk relatives, prenatal testing for a pregnancy at increased risk, and preimplantation genetic testing are possible.

Publication types

  • Review