Genetics of monoamine neurotransmitter disorders.

Translational pediatrics (2016-02-03)
Wai-Kwan Siu

The monoamine neurotransmitter disorders are a heterogeneous group of inherited neurological disorders involving defects in the metabolism of dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine and serotonin. The inheritance of these disorders is mostly autosomal recessive. The neurological symptoms are primarily attributable to cerebral deficiency of dopamine, serotonin or both. The clinical presentations were highly variable and substantial overlaps exist. Evidently, laboratory investigations are crucial for accurate diagnosis. Measurement of neurotransmitter metabolites in cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) is the key to delineate the metabolic defects. Adjuvant investigations including plasma phenylalanine, urine pterins, urine 3-O-methyldopa (3-OMD) and serum prolactin are also helpful to establish the diagnosis. Genetic analyses are pivotally important to confirm the diagnosis which allows specific treatments, proper genetic counselling, prognosis prediction, assessment of recurrent risk in the family as well as prenatal diagnosis. Early diagnosis with appropriate treatment is associated with remarkable response and favourable clinical outcome in several disorders in this group.