Clinical, pathologic, and biochemical features of a cholesterol lipidosis accompanied by hyperlipidemia and xanthomas
We describe the unique clinical and histopathologic features of a child with biochemical and immunocytochemical features of Niemann-Pick disease type C (NPC). Clinically, she was found to have multiple xanthomas of the upper aerodigestive tract with dysphagia and expressive language delay, splenomegaly, bony infarcts, and type IIb hyperlipidemia. Neurologic examination was otherwise normal. Microscopy revealed foam cells in her bone marrow, liver, tongue, tonsils, glottis, and in normal-appearing peritonsillar mucosa. Lipid analysis of a liver biopsy specimen showed a small increase in phospholipids, a twofold increase in sphingomyelin, a fivefold increase in cholesterol, and a marked (25-fold) increase in bis(monoacylglycerol) phosphate. Lysosomal acid hydrolase activities in cultured skin fibroblasts were nondiagnostic. Biochemical and immunocytochemical studies of cultured fibroblasts demonstrated lysosomal accumulation of unesterified LDL-derived cholesterol as well as delayed induction of homeostatic responses to endogenous cholesterol consistent with a diagnosis of NPC. Based upon these observations, we speculate that this patient could have a new phenotypic expression of NPC or represents a new cholesterol lipidosis biochemically resembling NPC. The chance occurrence of two separate lipid disorders seems less likely.