An Infant with Bilateral Keratitis: From Infectious to Genetic Diagnosis

Am J Case Rep. 2022 Nov 30:23:e937967. doi: 10.12659/AJCR.937967.


BACKGROUND Tyrosinemia Type II (TYRII) is a rare autosomal recessive inborn error of metabolism caused by deficiency of tyrosine aminotransferase (TAT), leading to hypertyrosinemia. TYRII patients often present in the first year of life with ocular and cutaneous findings, including corneal ulcers, pseudodendritic keratitis, and palmoplantar hyperkeratosis. The corneal involvement is often mistaken for herpes simplex virus (HSV) keratitis, which is a much commoner condition. CASE REPORT A previously healthy 10-month-old male infant was referred to Ophthalmology for acute onset photophobia. Bilateral dendritiform corneal lesions raised the suspicion for herpetic keratitis. Additionally, a papular, crusted lesion was found on his thumb after a few days of hospitalization, also raising concerns about HSV. The patient's clinical condition seemed to improve under intravenous acyclovir and supportive treatment. A conjunctival swab and crusted lesion on the thumb were tested for HSV using a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique, and both were negative. Nevertheless, given the clinical presentation and the favorable course of signs and symptoms, hospital discharge was planned with oral acyclovir. It was halted by an alternative diagnosis of autosomal recessive inborn error of metabolism, tyrosinemia type II, confirmed by elevated plasma tyrosine level and later by molecular analysis requested as a confirmatory investigation by the genetics medical team. CONCLUSIONS The corneal involvement in TYRII is often mistaken for HSV keratitis, and clinical course alone should not halt further investigations to rule out TYRII. Clinicians should suspect TYRII clinically when its characteristic ocular dendritiform lesions are present, namely in infancy or early childhood, and even in the absence of its typical cutaneous palmoplantar hyperkeratosis plaques.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Acyclovir
  • Administration, Intravenous
  • Child, Preschool
  • Corneal Ulcer*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Keratitis, Herpetic* / diagnosis
  • Keratitis, Herpetic* / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Tyrosinemias* / diagnosis
  • Tyrosinemias* / genetics


  • Acyclovir