Transaldolase deficiency (MIM#: 606003) is a rare autosomal recessive defect in the pentose phosphate pathway. Affected individuals are at risk for progressive liver failure and hepatocarcinoma. In the transaldolase-deficient mouse model (Taldo1 -/-), these hepatic complications are accentuated by oxidative stress related to acetaminophen administration. We report a 13-month-old transaldolase-deficient male who developed mild liver failure after receiving standard doses of acetaminophen during a febrile respiratory syncytial virus infection. He was admitted for respiratory distress with neutropenia and thrombocytopenia, but developed an enlarged nodular liver with accompanying splenomegaly and rising alpha-fetoprotein which peaked 2 weeks after acetaminophen exposure. Whole exome sequencing revealed compound heterozygous variants c.512_514delCCT (p.Ser171del) and c.931G > T (p.Gly311Trp) in TALDO1 (HGNC:11559), which encodes transaldolase (EC 22.214.171.124), a key enzyme in ribose metabolism. Urine polyols and plasma metabolomics confirmed the diagnosis of transaldolase deficiency. Studies on the Taldo1 -/- mouse model demonstrate acetaminophen-induced liver failure can be prevented by administration of the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine. Moreover, a published report showed treatment of a transaldolase-deficient patient with N-acetylcysteine was associated with a decrease in alpha-fetoprotein levels. After discontinuation of acetaminophen and prior to initiation of N-acetylcysteine treatment, our patient demonstrated resolving alpha-fetoprotein levels suggesting acetaminophen incited the liver failure. Conclusion: Our observations support the conclusion from mouse model studies that transaldolase-deficient patients are uniquely sensitive to acetaminophen and should avoid this antipyretic. Recognition of this individualized toxicity and avoidance of acetaminophen are essential for management of these patients.
Keywords: Acetaminophen; Actionable genetic disorders; Pentose phosphate pathway; Transaldolase deficiency; Treatment of genetic diseases; Whole exome sequencing.