The spectrum of hypoxanthine-guanine phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT) deficiency. Clinical experience based on 22 patients from 18 Spanish families

Medicine (Baltimore). 2001 Mar;80(2):102-12. doi: 10.1097/00005792-200103000-00003.


The enzyme hypoxanthine-guanine phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT) catalyzes the reutilization of hypoxanthine and guanine to the purine nucleotides IMP and GMP, respectively. HPRT deficiency is an X-linked disorder characterized by uric acid overproduction and variable neurologic impairment. The complete deficiency of HPRT is diagnostic of Lesch-Nyhan syndrome manifested by choreoathetosis, spasticity, mental retardation, and self-injurious behavior. In some HPRT-deficient patients the enzyme defect appeared to be "partial" and the neurologic symptoms mild to severe (Kelley-Seegmiller syndrome). This has prompted the classification of HPRT deficiency in 2 distinct groups: Lesch-Nyhan syndrome and Kelley-Seegmiller syndrome, which has created much confusion. A spectrum of clinical consequences of HPRT deficiency has been recognized in small series of patients, but the complete spectrum of the neurologic disorder has not been described in a single series of patients examined by the same observers. We analyzed our experience with 22 patients belonging to 18 different families with HPRT deficiency diagnosed at "La Paz" University Hospital in Madrid over the past 16 years. The clinical spectrum of these HPRT-deficient Spanish patients was similar to the different phenotypes occasionally reported in the literature, in some cases diagnosed as Lesch-Nyhan "variants." The clinical, biochemical, enzymatic, and molecular genetic studies on these 22 patients allowed us to delineate a new classification of HPRT deficiency. Based on the neurologic symptoms, dependency for personal care, HPRT activity in hemolysate and in intact erythrocytes, and predicted protein size, patients were classified into 4 groups: Group 1 (2 patients), normal development with no neurologic symptoms, HPRT activity was detectable in hemolysates and in intact erythrocytes, and the mutation did not affect the predicted protein size. Group 2 (3 patients) mild neurologic symptoms that did not prevent independent lives, HPRT activity was detectable in intact erythrocytes, and the protein size was normal. Group 3 (2 patients), severe neurologic impairment that precluded an independent life, no residual HPRT activity, and normal protein size. Group 4 (15 patients), clinical characteristics of Lesch-Nyhan syndrome (some may not show self-injurious behavior), no residual HPRT activity, and in most (7 of 8 patients in whom the mutation could be detected) the mutation affected the predicted protein size. This classification of HPRT deficiency into 4 groups may be more useful in terms of accuracy, reproducibility, assessment for treatment trials and prognosis. The study of this Spanish series allows us to conclude that HPRT deficiency may be manifested by a wide spectrum of neurologic symptoms; the overall severity of the disease is associated with mutations permitting some degree of residual enzyme activity; and mutation analysis provides a valuable tool for prognosis, carrier identification, and prenatal diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Genetic Carrier Screening
  • Humans
  • Hypoxanthine Phosphoribosyltransferase / deficiency*
  • Infant
  • Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome / blood
  • Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome / genetics
  • Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / blood
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / classification
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / genetics
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / physiopathology
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Pedigree
  • Phenotype
  • Purines / blood
  • Spain / epidemiology


  • Purines
  • Hypoxanthine Phosphoribosyltransferase