European Journal of Pediatrics

, Volume 158, Supplement 2, pp S089–S094 | Cite as

Diagnosis and management of Crigler-Najjar syndrome

  • P. L. M. Jansen


Crigler-Najjar syndrome (CNS) results from a mutation in one of the five exons of the gene coding for the enzyme bilirubin-UDP-glucuronosyltransferase by exon 1*1 and exons 2–5 of the UDP-glucuronosyltransferase 1 locus, the bilirubin glucuronidating isoform of UDP-glucuronosyltransferase. CNS type 2 is caused by a single base pair mutation leading to a decreased but not totally absent enzyme activity. In these patients the enzyme remains responsive to phenobarbital induction therapy and their bile contains low amounts of bilirubin mono- and diglucuronides. In CNS type 1 the enzyme activity is completely absent. CNS type 1 patients do not respond to phenobarbital and their bile does not contain more than traces of bilirubin conjugates. In 1997 we reported a World Registry on the treatment of patients with CNS type 1. Data were collected on 57 patients, of whom 21 (37%) had been transplanted at the time of data collection. Some 15 patients (26%) had brain damage, in 7 of whom the brain damage was mild and they received a liver transplant. Patients with brain damage at transplantation were significantly older than those without brain damage (14.3 vs 5.9 years). Before transplantation the serum bilirubin level of CNS type 1 patients should be kept below 350 μmol/l with daily phototherapy. Oral calcium supplementation makes phototherapy more efficient. Gene therapy has been performed successfully in the Gunn rat, an animal model for this disease. Liver cell transplantation has recently been done in a child with CNS type 1.

Key words UDP-glucuronosyltransferase Crigler-Najjar disease Hyperbilirubinaemia Kernicterus Liver transplantation 
AbbreviationsB-UGT bilirubin-UDP-glucuronosyltransferase CNS Crigler-Najjar syndrome ugt1 the gene encoding bilirubin UDP-glucuronosyltransferase and various phenol UDP-glucuronosyltransferases UGT 1*1 the enzyme bilirubin UDP-glucuronosyltransferase encoded by exon 1*1 and exons 2–5 of the ugt1 locus 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. L. M. Jansen
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Gastro-enterology and Liver DiseasesUniversity Hospital Groningen, Hanzeplein 1GroningenThe Netherlands

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