Clinical and laboratory findings in twins with neonatal epileptic encephalopathy mimicking aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase deficiency

Neuropediatrics. 2002 Jun;33(3):113-7. doi: 10.1055/s-2002-33673.


Aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase (AADC) is a vitamin B 6 requiring enzyme involved in the biosynthesis of the neurotransmitters dopamine (DA) and serotonin. Lack of AADC leads to a combined deficiency of the catecholamines DA, norepinephrine (NE), epinephrine (E) as well as of serotonin. Here we describe premature twins who presented with severe seizures, myoclonus, rotatory eye movements and sudden clonic contractions. The patients showed an improvement of the clonic contractions under vitamin B 6 supplementation but died in the third week of life. In CSF and urine a biochemical pattern indicative of AADC deficiency was revealed. Concentrations of homovanillic acid (HVA), 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) and 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylglycol (MHPG) were decreased, in association with increased concentrations of 3-ortho-methyldopa (3-OMD) in CSF and significantly increased vanillactic acid in urine. The AADC enzyme substrates L-dopa and 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) were elevated in CSF. Elevated concentrations of threonine as well as of an unidentified compound in CSF rounded off the biochemical pattern. AADC activity was found to be increased in plasma and deficient in the liver. Molecular studies effectively ruled out a genetic defect in the AADC gene. The basis for the epileptic encephalopathy in the twins may be located in the metabolism of vitamin B 6 and remains to be defined.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aromatic-L-Amino-Acid Decarboxylases / blood*
  • Aromatic-L-Amino-Acid Decarboxylases / deficiency*
  • Aromatic-L-Amino-Acid Decarboxylases / genetics
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / blood*
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / genetics*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Epilepsy / blood*
  • Epilepsy / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Epilepsy / genetics*
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Twins*


  • Aromatic-L-Amino-Acid Decarboxylases