American journal of clinical pathology

Concordance of butyrylcholinesterase phenotype with genotype: implications for biochemical reporting.

PMID 21228368


Butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) metabolizes the paralytic succinylcholine. Extended paralysis occurs in people with inherited BChE variants that may be identified by measuring BChE activity with and without the inhibitor dibucaine to calculate a dibucaine number (DN). Accurate phenotyping requires phenotype-specific BChE and DN reference intervals. We investigated the concordance between the biochemical BChE phenotype and the BCHE genotype to establish interpretive criteria for biochemical results. DNA was extracted from 45 serum specimens for which BChE activity and DN had been determined. The BCHE gene coding region was amplified and sequenced. Phenotype-genotype concordance and discordance occurred in 16 (36%) and 15 (33%) of specimens, respectively. A phenotype could not be assigned for 14 specimens (31%). An incorrectly assigned phenotype did not change the risk of prolonged paralysis or implied a slightly increased risk when there was none. Accurate BChE phenotyping is difficult using only enzyme activity and DN. The combination of biochemistry and BCHE genotype could improve the assessment of patient risk.