Erythrocyte pyruvate kinase deficiency in an old-order Amish cohort: longitudinal risk and disease management

Pyruvate kinase deficiency is a chronic illness with age specific consequences. Newborns suffer life-threatening hemolytic crisis and hyperbilirubinemia. Adults are at risk for infections because of asplenia, pregnancy-related morbidity, and may suffer organ damage because of systemic iron overload. We describe 27 Old Order Amish patients (ages 8 months-52 years) homozygous for c.1436G>A mutations in PKLR. Each subject had a predictable neonatal course requiring packed red blood cell transfusions (30 ± 5 mL/kg) to control hemolytic disease and intensive phototherapy to prevent kernicterus. Hemochromatosis affected 29% (n = 4) of adult patients, who had inappropriately normal serum hepcidin (34.5 ± 12.7 ng/mL) and GDF-15 (595 ± 335pg/mL) relative to hyperferritinemia (769 ± 595 mg/dL). A high prevalence of HFE gene mutations exists in this population and may contribute to iron-related morbidity. Based on our observations, we present a strategy for long-term management of pyruvate kinase deficiency.