Pyruvate dehydrogenase complex deficiency (PDCD) is a rare neurodegenerative disorder associated with abnormal mitochondrial metabolism. Structural brain abnormalities are common in PDCD. A case of a patient with PDCD with an unusual presentation is described. A 20-month-old boy with hypotonia and developmental delay, presented with hypoxia and respiratory distress due to bronchiolitis. During hospitalisation, he was prescribed PediaSure® feeds. Two days after starting these feeds, he developed respiratory arrest requiring intubation. His blood gas before arrest revealed lactate of 8.9 mmol/L despite normal haemodynamics. After stabilisation and a period of compulsory fasting, subsequent feeding with PediaSure® resulted in the recurrence of lactic acidosis. A metabolic workup revealed an elevated serum pyruvate level. Brain MRI was normal. Skeletal muscle biopsy confirmed PDCD. The most common cause of PDCD is a mutation in the X-linked PDHA1 gene. The severity of PDCD can range from neonatal death to more delayed onset of symptoms as in our index case. Normal brain MRI is reported in only 2% of patients with PDCD. There is no effective treatment for PDCD. In patients with proximal muscle weakness and feeding intolerance with glucose-containing feeds, the presence of lactic acidosis should raise the suspicion of PDCD irrespective of the patient’s age and normal MRI.
Keywords: ketogenic diet, magnetic resonance imaging, genetics, PediaSure®, lactic acidosis, pyruvate dehydrogenase deficiency
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