Propionic acidemia is one of the most frequent inborn errors of metabolism caused by a deficiency of propionyl-CoA carboxylase. Methylcitric acid, a key indicator of this disorder, is increased in amniotic fluid when a fetus is affected. Therefore, the direct chemical analysis of cell-free amniotic fluid for methylcitric acid, using stable isotope dilution gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, was carried out for the prenatal diagnosis of propionic acidemia. We developed a simple, highly sensitive, and accurate method for quantitation of this polar methylcitric acid in amniotic fluids by applying a simplified urease pretreatment which we devised earlier for urine. As the recovery of methylcitric acid from amniotic fluid was as high as 91% with a coefficient of variation lower than 3% in this procedure, only 0.02 ml of sample was required for the analysis of the affected fetus. This new procedure takes 1 h for sample pretreatment, including derivatization, and 15 min for GC-MS measurement and provides final results within 1.5 h.
Copyright 2002 Elsevier Science B.V.