Background: Many central nervous system disorders result in hypothalamic-pituitary (HP) axis dysfunction. Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood (AHC) is usually caused by mutations in the ATP1A3 subunit of the Na+/K+ ATPase, predominantly affecting GABAergic interneurons. GABAergic interneurons and the ATP1A3 subunit are both important for function of the hypothalamus. However, whether HP dysfunction occurs in AHC and, if so, how such dysfunction manifests remains to be investigated.
Methods: We conducted a retrospective review of a cohort of 50 consecutive AHC patients for occurrence of HP related manifestations and analyzed the findings of the 6 patients, from that cohort, with such manifestations.
Results: Six out of 50 AHC patients manifested HP dysfunction. Three of these patients were mutation positive and 3 were mutation negative. Of the 6 patients with HP dysfunction, 3 had central precocious puberty. A fourth had short stature due to growth hormone deficiency. Two other patients had recurrent episodes of fever of unknown origin (FUO) diagnosed, after workups, as being secondary to central fever. All patients were evaluated and co-managed by pediatric neurology and endocrinology or rheumatology.
Conclusion: AHC was associated with HP dysfunction in about 12% of patients. Awareness of such dysfunction is important for anticipatory guidance and management particularly in the case of FUO which often presents a diagnostic dilemma. Our findings are also consistent with current understandings of the underlying pathophysiology of AHC and of the HP axis.
Keywords: Alternating hemiplegia of childhood; Fever of unknown origin; Growth hormone deficiency; Hypothalamus; Precocious puberty.
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