Inherited metabolic diseases affecting the carrier

J Inherit Metab Dis. 1997 Mar;20(1):9-20. doi: 10.1023/a:1005397120726.


The objective of this review is to draw attention to those inherited metabolic traits which are potentially harmful also for the carrier, and to outline preventive measures, at least for obligate heterozygotes, i.e. parents of homozygous children. Concerning carriers of food-dependent abnormalities, early vascular disease in homocystinuria, hyperammonaemic episodes in ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency, presenile cataracts in galactosaemia as well as galactokinase deficiency, spastic paraparesis in X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy, and HELLP syndrome in mothers of babies with long-chain 3-hydroxyacyl-coenzyme A dehydrogenase deficiency have to be mentioned. In the group of food-independent disorders, clinical features in carriers may be paraesthesias and corneal dystrophy in Fabry disease, lens clouding in Lowe syndrome, lung and/or liver diseases in alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency, and renal stones in cystinuria type II and III. Finally, two monogenic carrier states are known which in pregnant individuals could possibly afflict the developing fetus, i.e. heterozygosity for galactosaemia and for phenylketonuria. Elevated levels of galactose-1-phosphate have been found in red blood cells of infants heterozygous for galactosaemia born to heterozygous mothers. Aspartame in very high doses is reported to increase blood phenylalanine levels in heterozygotes for phenylketonuria, thus being a risk for the fetus of a heterozygous mother. For some of these carrier states preventive measures can be recommended, e.g. restriction of lactose in parents and heterozygous grandparents of children with galactosaemia and galactokinase deficiency as well as transiently in infants heterozygous for galactosaemia, dietary supplementation with monounsaturated fatty acids in symptomatic carriers for X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy, avoidance of smoking and alcohol in heterozygotes for alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency, avoidance of episodes of dehydration in heterozygotes for cystinuria, and restriction of aspartame in pregnant women.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diet
  • Female
  • Heterozygote*
  • Humans
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / genetics*
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / metabolism
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / physiopathology
  • Pregnancy