Homocystinuria, Beta-Synthase Deficiency

Clinical Characteristics
Ocular Features: 

More than half of patients have ectopia lentis by the age of 10 years and the dislocation is progressive.  Ectopia lentis occurs in 90% of patients and 94% of these are noted by the age of 20 years.  The lenses seem to be more mobile than those in Marfan syndrome with a significantly increased risk of lens migration into the anterior chamber (19%) or complete dislocation into the posterior chamber (14%).   Lens surgery is required in homocystinuria about 7 years earlier than in Marfan syndrome with 62% of procedures necessitated by pupillary block glaucoma or displacement into the anterior chamber.  Whereas nearly 70% of lenses dislocate superiorly in Marfan syndrome, only 9% of homocystinuria lenses do so.

Other ocular features include optic atrophy (23%), iris atrophy (21%), anterior staphylomas (13%) and corneal opacities (9%).  Retinal detachments occur in 5-10%.  The majority of patients both pre- and postoperatively have vision of 20/50 or worse.

Systemic Features: 

Arachnodactyly and tall stature in some patients may suggest Marfan syndrome.  Mental deficiencies or behavioral problems are present in a majority of patients (50-60%) with mental functioning higher in the subset of patients who are B6-responsive.  Thromboembolic events (strokes, myocardial infarctions) are a significant risk at any age, especially so after age 20 years, and this is responsible for considerable morbidity and mortality.  The risk is especially high following general anesthesia unless hydration is strictly controlled.  Osteoporosis and seizures are common.  Hypopigmentation is often present but darkening of hair has been noted following pyridoxine treatment.  Serum homocysteine is generally elevated and the urine contains elevated levels of methionine.


Classic homocystinuria is an autosomal recessive disorder that results from mutations in the CBS (21q22.3) gene encoding cystathionine beta-synthase.  It is the second most common error of amino acid metabolism.  Numerous mutations have been identified but among the most common ones are I278T which causes a pyridoxine-responsive disorder, and the G3307S mutation which leads to a variant that is not responsive to pyridoxine treatment.

For another more aggressive form of homocystinuria caused by mutations in MTHFR (1p36.3) see Homosystinuria, MTHER Deficiency (236250).

Treatment Options: 

Patients with this disorder form two groups: those who respond to pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and those who do not.  Those who do not respond to B6 tend to have more severe disease.  Methionine restriction administered neonatally has been reported to prevent mental retardation and reduce the rate of lens dislocation.  Neonates should be treated with B6 therapy, protein and methionine restriction, betaine, and folate with vitamin B12 supplementation.  Surgical removal of lenses may be required but the rate of vitreous loss is high.

Article Title: 


Harrison DA, Mullaney PB, Mesfer SA, Awad AH, Dhindsa H. Management of ophthalmic complications of homocystinuria. Ophthalmology. 1998 Oct;105(10):1886-90.

PubMedID: 9787359

Gerding H. Ocular complications and a new surgical approach to lens dislocation in homocystinuria due to cystathionine-beta-synthetase deficiency. Eur J Pediatr. 1998 Apr;157 Suppl 2:S94-101.

PubMedID: 9587034

Mudd SH, Skovby F, Levy HL, Pettigrew KD, Wilcken B, Pyeritz RE, Andria G, Boers GH, Bromberg IL, Cerone R, et al. The natural history of homocystinuria due to cystathionine beta-synthase deficiency. Am J Hum Genet. 1985 Jan;37(1):1-31.

PubMedID: 3872065

Cross HE, Jensen AD. Ocular manifestations in the Marfan syndrome and homocystinuria. Am J Ophthalmol. 1973 Mar;75(3):405-20.

PubMedID: 4633235