A deletion in the long arm of chromosome 18 in a child with serum carnosinase deficiency

Pediatr Res. 1997 Feb;41(2):210-3. doi: 10.1203/00006450-199702000-00009.


The dipeptides carnosine and anserine, found exclusively in meats, are hydrolyzed in serum by the enzyme carnosinase. Several reports of serum carnosinase deficiency describe a variable phenotype, which ranges from normal to severe psychomotor retardation, hypotonia, and myoclonic seizures in the first year of life. We report the case of a 30-mo-old girl with hypotonia, developmental delays, and tremor. Although consuming nominal quantities of meal, she excreted large amounts of carnosine and anserine. A strict meat-free diet ameliorated, but did not eliminate, these abnormalities. Serum carnosinase activity was found to be extremely low. Analysis of this child's chromosomes revealed a terminal deletion of chromosome 18 with breakpoint at q21.3. Neither parent exhibited this deletion, suggesting it was generated de novo in the patient or in a parental germ cell. Molecular studies showed that the patient's paternal chromosome 18 was deleted. Urinary carnosine excretion and serum carnosinase activity were normal in the patient's father. The mother had low carnosinase activity. The patient's brother exhibited moderate hypercarnosinuria and intermediate enzyme activity, consistent with the carrier state for carnosinase deficiency. Cumulatively, these findings suggest that the locus for this enzyme resides on the distal long arm of chromosome 18, and they are consistent with an unusual mechanism for the inheritance of this, typically autosomal recessive, condition. We conclude that this patient is likely hemizygous for the defect, having received the deficiency allele from her mother and, by virtue of the chromosomal deletion, no allele from her father. This represents the first report of a chromosomal abnormality in association with serum carnosinase deficiency and should aid in further localization of the gene encoding serum carnosinase.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Chromosome Deletion*
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 18*
  • Developmental Disabilities / enzymology*
  • Dipeptidases / blood
  • Dipeptidases / deficiency*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Muscle Hypotonia / enzymology*
  • Tremor / enzymology*


  • Dipeptidases
  • aminoacyl-histidine dipeptidase