Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome: clinical and biochemical correlates

J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2018 Mar 28;31(4):451-459. doi: 10.1515/jpem-2017-0501.


Background: Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome (SLOS) is an autosomal recessive disorder caused by mutations in the DHCR7 gene that result in reduced cholesterol biosynthesis. The aim of the study was to examine the biochemical and clinical features of SLOS in the context of the emerging evidence of the importance of cholesterol in morphogenesis and steroidogenesis.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the records of 18 patients (including four fetuses) with confirmed SLOS and documented their clinical and biochemical features.

Results: Seven patients had branchial arch abnormalities, including micrognathia, immune dysfunction and hypocalcemia. Thymic abnormalities were found in three fetuses. All four patients with a cholesterol level of ≤0.35 mmol/L died. They all had electrolyte abnormalities (hyperkalemia, hyponatremia, hypocalcemia), necrotizing enterocolitis, sepsis-like episodes and midline defects including the branchial and cardiac defects. Patients with cholesterol levels ≥1.7 mmol/L had milder features and were diagnosed at 9 months to 25 years of age. All 10 patients had intellectual disability. One patient was found to have a novel mutation, c.1220A>G (p.Asn407Ser).

Conclusions: We suggest that screening for adrenal insufficiency and for hypoparathyroidism, hypothyroidism and immunodeficiency, should be done routinely in infants diagnosed early with SLOS. Early diagnosis and intervention to correct these biochemical consequences may decrease mortality and improve long-term outcome in these patients.

Keywords: 7-dehydrocholesterol; Smith-Lemli-Opitz; adrenal function; cholesterol metabolism.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adrenal Insufficiency / epidemiology
  • Adrenal Insufficiency / pathology*
  • Adult
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Biomarkers / analysis*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cholesterol / deficiency*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Mutation
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-CH Group Donors / genetics
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Smith-Lemli-Opitz Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Young Adult


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