Rapid and sensitive detection of urinary 4-hydroxybutyric acid and its related compounds by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry in a patient with succinic semialdehyde dehydrogenase deficiency

J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci. 2002 Aug 25;776(1):57-63. doi: 10.1016/s1570-0232(02)00126-5.


We describe the rapid and sensitive detection of 4-hydroxybutyric acid, which is a marker compound for succinic semialdehyde dehydrogenase (SSADH) deficiency. Urinary 4-hydroxybutyric acid and 3,4-dihydroxybutyric acid were targeted, quantified by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry after simplified urease digestion in which lactone formation from gamma-hydroxy acids is minimized. The recovery of 4-hydroxybutyric acid using this method was over 93%. 2,2-Dimethylsuccinic acid was used as an internal standard. The detection limit of this method was 1 nmol ml(-1) for both 4-hydroxybutyric acid and 3,4-dihydroxybutyric acid. The urinary concentrations of 4-hydroxybutyric acid and of 3,4-dihydroxybutyric acid from the patient with an SSADH deficiency were 880-3628 mmol mol(-1) creatinine (control; 3.3+/-3.3 mmol mol(-1) creatinine) and 810-1366 mmol mol(-1) creatinine (control; 67.4+/-56.2 mmol mol(-1) creatinine), respectively. The simplified urease digestion of urine is very useful for quantifying 4-hydroxybutyric acid and its related compounds in patients with 4-hydroxybutyric aciduria.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aldehyde Oxidoreductases / deficiency*
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Hydroxybutyrates / urine*
  • Infant
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / diagnosis
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / urine*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Succinate-Semialdehyde Dehydrogenase


  • Hydroxybutyrates
  • 4-hydroxybutyric acid
  • Aldehyde Oxidoreductases
  • ALDH5A1 protein, human
  • Succinate-Semialdehyde Dehydrogenase