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Long-Chain Acyl CoA Dehydrogenase Deficiency Treatment & Management

  • Author: Fernando Scaglia, MD, FACMG; Chief Editor: Luis O Rohena, MD  more...
Updated: Nov 14, 2014

Medical Care

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  • Evaluation for long-chain 3-hydroxy acyl-coenzyme A dehydrogenase (LCHAD) deficiency may be performed on an outpatient basis with acylcarnitine profile, serum free fatty acids, and urine organic acids; however, patients who are asymptomatic at the time of evaluation may not show abnormalities. If high index of suspicion exists on the basis of the history, a skin biopsy could be performed for fatty acid oxidation studies in fibroblasts. However, the availability of DNA studies (eg, sequencing and oligonucleotide-based array comparative genomic hybridization [CGH]) may supersede the need to start with fatty acid oxidation studies in cultured fibroblasts.
  • In cases of acute decompensation with unconfirmed diagnosis, collect samples during the acute episode while the hypoglycemia is corrected.
  • If the patient presents with acute hypoketotic hypoglycemic encephalopathy, the main goal is to secure sufficient energy intake by infusions of intravenous glucose.
  • The management of affected patients is directed at the avoidance of fasting. Most patients also are provided with uncooked cornstarch and medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil supplementation to further decrease exposure to fasting. Oral supplementation with docosahexanoic acid ethyl ester (DHA) may be considered to improve visual function. Consider carnitine supplementation if hypocarnitinemia is present; however, carnitine should not be used during acute decompensation.


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  • Genetic metabolic services
  • Nutritionist
  • Cardiologist
  • Ophthalmologist
  • Neurologist


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  • A low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet with limited long-chain fatty acid intake (10% of total energy) is beneficial.
  • Addition of MCT-oil treatment (providing 10-20% of energy requirements) is reported to be beneficial with improvement in dicarboxylic aciduria and a normalization of the plasma level of long-chain acylcarnitines.
  • Coordinating MCT supplementation (0.5 g per kg of lean body mass) with periods of increased activity may improve the metabolic control of children with long-chain 3-hydroxy acyl-coenzyme A dehydrogenase and trifunctional protein deficiency following exercise.[4]
  • The use of uncooked cornstarch (2 g/kg/dose) at bedtime prevents early morning hypoglycemia after the overnight fast.
  • Supplementation with vegetable oils, as part of the 10% total long-chain fatty acid intake, provides essential fatty acids (ie, linoleic acid, linolenic acid) and prevents retinal disease, peripheral neuropathy, growth restriction, and dermatitis. Use of flax/walnut oils (containing the least amount of nonessential fatty acids) when compared to canola oil may reduce the accumulation of disease specific acyl-CoA intermediates, preventing peripheral neuropathy.
  • Prevention of fasting with frequent feeds is crucial.
  • DHA supplementation (100 mg/d) as some reports have demonstrated improvements of visual function with supplementation.
  • A daily multivitamin and mineral supplement that includes all fat-soluble vitamins is required.
  • Supplementation with heptanoate (C7) triglyceride has been evaluated for other long-chain fatty acid oxidation defects and has been suggested to be potentially useful for long-chain 3-hydroxy acyl-coenzyme A dehydrogenase deficiency; however, this advantage has not been clearly documented.
  • Because the incidence of obesity and overweight is increasing among children with long-chain 3-hydroxy acyl-coenzyme A dehydrogenase or trifunctional protein deficiency, a diet higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates may help to lower total energy intake and maintaining good metabolic control. However, long-term studies are needed in order to determine whether higher protein diets reduce risks of overweight and obesity.


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  • Advise tempered activity when increased risk for rhabdomyolysis and myoglobinuria exists.
  • Advise avoidance of strenuous exercise activity and maintenance of adequate fluid intake to prevent dehydration with physical activity.
  • Advise restriction of activity when cardiomyopathy is present.
Contributor Information and Disclosures

Fernando Scaglia, MD, FACMG Associate Professor of Genetics, Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital

Fernando Scaglia, MD, FACMG is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics, Society for Inherited Metabolic Disorders, Society for the Study of Inborn Errors of Metabolism, American Society of Human Genetics

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Mary L Windle, PharmD Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Margaret M McGovern, MD, PhD Professor and Chair of Pediatrics, Stony Brook University School of Medicine

Margaret M McGovern, MD, PhD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Society of Human Genetics

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Luis O Rohena, MD Chief, Medical Genetics, San Antonio Military Medical Center; Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, F Edward Hebert School of Medicine; Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

Luis O Rohena, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Chemical Society, American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics, American Society of Human Genetics

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Karl S Roth, MD Retired Professor and Chair, Department of Pediatrics, Creighton University School of Medicine

Karl S Roth, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Nutrition, American Pediatric Society, American Society for Nutrition, American Society of Nephrology, Association of American Medical Colleges, Medical Society of Virginia, New York Academy of Sciences, Sigma Xi, Society for Pediatric Research, Southern Society for Pediatric Research

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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Schematic demonstrating mitochondrial fatty acid beta-oxidation and effects of long-chain acyl CoA dehydrogenase deficiency (LCHAD) deficiency.
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