Fifteen years experience: Egyptian metabolic lab
Background: Inborn errors of metabolism (IEM) are single gene disorders responsible for abnormalities in the synthesis or catabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fats by means of defective enzymes or transport proteins which results in a block of the metabolic pathway and accumulation of metabolites in different tissues. This study shows the most common diagnosed inherited inborn errors of metabolism among the Egyptian population. Prior to 1995, the diagnosis of inherited metabolic disorders in Egypt was very limited and diagnosed mainly on clinical suspicion. In 1995, The Biochemical Genetics Unit at The National Research Centre has been established as a part of The Human Genetics Department and later on in 2003 it was developed into The Biochemical Genetics Department by applying advanced techniques and equipments and providing early diagnosis for the metabolic disorders which led to better outcome in our patients.
Material and methods: We have retrospectively reviewed a total of 12,148 cases suspected to have inborn errors of metabolism (IEM) with different age groups. They had been referred from several diagnostic centers and hospitals in Egypt to The Department of Biochemical Genetics at The National Research Centre. The diagnosis of these disorders was confirmed by qualitative determination of amino acid profile, quantitative determination of phenylalanine and galactose levels using dried blood spots (DBSs), quantitative determination of urinary glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), twodimensional electrophoretic separation of GAGs in urine and the assay for lysosomal enzymes activities in plasma and leukocytes.
Results: Out of the total number of cases; 1041 (8.6%) patients were proved to have metabolic disorders. Those patients were classified as: 722 patients (69.4%) with lysosomal storage disorders, 302 patients (29%) with amino acid disorders and 17 patients (1.6%) with galactosemia.
Conclusion: This study illustrates the experience of the reference metabolic lab in Egypt over 15 years. The lab began metabolic disorder screening by using simple diagnostic techniques like thin layer chromatography and colored tests in urine which by time updated and upgraded the methods to diagnose a wide range of disorders. This study shows the most common diagnosed inherited inborn errors of metabolism among the Egyptian population.
Keywords: IEM; Consanguineous marriages; Aminoacidopathies; Lysosomal storage disorders