Hepatic Copper Accumulation: A Novel Feature in Transient Infantile Liver Failure Due to TRMU Mutations?
Defects in the mitochondrial respiratory chain can induce a heterogeneous range of clinical and biochemical manifestations. Hepatic involvement includes acute fulminant hepatic failure, microvesicular steatosis, neonatal non-alloimmune haemochromatosis and cirrhosis. Recently pathogenic mutations in tRNA 5-methylaminomethyl-2-thiouridylate methyltransferase (TRMU) gene (OMIM 610230) have been demonstrated to cause transient infantile liver failure (OMIM 613070). The human TRMU gene encodes a mitochondrial protein, 5-methylaminomethyl-2-thiouridylate methyltransferase, whose molecular function is that of mitochondrial tRNA modification.
We report an infant who presented with acute liver failure, in whom we observed hepatic copper intoxication and cirrhosis on liver biopsy. We postulate that the hepatic copper intoxication observed in our patient is most likely a secondary event associated with cholangiopathy. Periportal copper accumulation has been implicated in causing secondary mitochondrial dysfunction; the impact of copper accumulation in patients with TRMU mutations is unclear and warrants long-term clinical follow-up.
KeywordsMitochondrial Respiratory Chain Copper Accumulation Acute Hepatic Failure Mitochondrial Oxidative Stress Menkes Disease
The authors thank Professor Alex Kinsley (King’s College Hospital, London) for kindly reviewing the histopathological slides and Professor David Thorburn (MCRI, Melbourne) for performing the MRC studies.