Isolated aldosterone synthase deficiency can be the source of life-threatening salt wasting and failure to thrive in infancy. We studied an infant with failure to thrive and persistent hyponatremia despite oral sodium supplementation. Initial analyses revealed highly elevated plasma renin but normal values of plasma aldosterone. The biochemical diagnosis of corticosterone methyl oxidase deficiency type II was established by multisteroid analysis, revealing a pathognomonic pattern with a highly elevated ratio of 18-OH-corticosterone to aldosterone. This reflects an enzymatic defect in the aldosterone synthase that is responsible for the terminal steps in the aldosterone biosynthesis. Molecular genetic analysis supported the diagnosis revealing homozygosity for a pathogenic c.554C>T (p.T185I) variation in exon 3 of the CYP11B2 gene encoding aldosterone synthase. Homozygosity for two other polymorphic variations c.504C>T (p.F168F) and c.518A>G (p.K173R) were identified as well. Treatment with fludrocortisone resulted in catch-up growth. Discontinuation of treatment at the age of 9 years was later possible without any clinical or biochemical deterioration.
Conclusions: Isolated deficiency in aldosterone biosynthesis should be considered in neonates and infants with failure to thrive and salt wasting. Normal levels of plasma aldosterone compared with highly elevated levels of plasma renin indicate an impaired aldosterone biosynthesis and suggest the disorder. Recognition of its existence is important as fludrocortisone replacement therapy effectively normalizes sodium balance and growth.