Newborn Screening for Hereditary Tyrosinemia Type I in Québec: Update

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2017:959:139-146. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-55780-9_13.


Hereditary tyrosinemia type I (HTI) is a rare autosomal recessive disorder caused by a fumarylacetoacetate hydrolase (FAH) deficiency. If untreated, its acute form is characterized by hepatic failure, renal dysfunction and neurological crisis, and may lead to death. Due to a genetic founder effect in the French-Canadian population, the prevalence of HTI is increased in the province of Quebec (1/19 819), with the IVS12 + 5G>A (1062 + 5G>A) splice site mutation responsible for more than 90% of mutated alleles. Universal newborn screening for (HT1) was thus established in 1970, and close to four million infants have been tested so far, allowing to identify 185 of the 190 affected newborns. During the 1970-1997 period, 2,249,000 newborns were screened at 3-7 days of life on dried filter paper blood spots by tyrosine (Tyr) concentration followed by indirect colorimetric semi-quantitative and quantitative (Q) succinylacetone (SA) testing (red blood cells δ-aminolevulinate dehydratase inhibition), with immunoreactive FAH as the confirmatory test. This approach allowed to identify 118 of 123 affected newborns. In 1998, owing to earlier hospital discharge and increased rate of breastfeeding, four cases were missed within the same year as the discriminating power of blood Tyr became inadequate. Thus, the screening algorithm was modified: indirect semi-quantitative SA measurement became the first-tier test between 1998 and 2014, and direct SA measurement by tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) was implemented in 2014, followed by indirect quantitative SA measurement as second tier test. Confirmation is performed by plasmatic amino acid profile and molecular testing. During the 1998-2016 period, more than 1,5 million neonates have been tested (90% sampled between 24 and 48 h of life): 67 of the 67 HTI cases were identified. Both indirect and direct SA measurement as the initial HTI screening test proved to be highly sensitive and specific, with positive and negative predicting value of 79% and 100% respectively.

Keywords: Genetic founder effect; Hereditary tyrosinemia type I; Newborn screening; Succinylacetone; Tyrosine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Heptanoates / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Neonatal Screening / methods
  • Quebec
  • Tyrosine / metabolism
  • Tyrosinemias / diagnosis*
  • Tyrosinemias / genetics
  • Tyrosinemias / metabolism


  • Heptanoates
  • Tyrosine
  • succinylacetone