Treatment of hereditary tyrosinaemia type I by inhibition of 4-hydroxyphenylpyruvate dioxygenase

Lancet. 1992 Oct 3;340(8823):813-7. doi: 10.1016/0140-6736(92)92685-9.


Liver transplantation is the only effective treatment for hereditary tyrosinaemia type I (McKusick 276700). We have treated one acute and four subacute-chronic cases with 2-(2-nitro-4-trifluoromethylbenzoyl)-1,3-cyclohexanedione (NTBC), a potent inhibitor of 4-hydroxyphenylpyruvate dioxygenase (EC, to prevent the formation of maleylacetoacetate and fumarylacetoacetate and their saturated derivatives. The oral daily dose was 0.1-0.6 mg/kg. The excretion of succinylacetoacetate and succinylacetone decreased from 15-103 mmol/mol creatinine to the detection limit or slightly above (ie, to 20-150 mumol/mol creatinine). The concentration of succinylacetone in plasma decreased from 5.8-43 mumol/l to the detection limit (0.1 mumol/l) over 2-5 months of treatment. The almost complete inhibition of porphobilinogen synthase in erythrocytes was abolished and the excretion of 5-aminolevulinate decreased to within or slightly above the reference range. The concentration of alpha-fetoprotein decreased in four patients to 1.3-7.5% of initially high values over 6-8 months. Improved liver function was reflected by normal concentrations of prothrombin complex and in decreased activities of alkaline phosphatase and gamma-glutamyltransferase in serum. Computed tomography revealed regression of hepatic abnormalities in three patients. One patient developed rickets 6 months before treatment and had excreted high concentrations of markers of tubular dysfunction--after 3 weeks of treatment, this excretion had disappeared. No side-effects were encountered. Inhibition of 4-hydroxyphenylpyruvate dioxygenase may prevent the development of liver cirrhosis and abolish or diminish the risk of liver cancer. Normalisation of porphyrin synthesis will eliminate the risk of porphyric crises. This type of treatment may thus offer an alternative to liver transplantation in hereditary tyrosinaemia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 4-Hydroxyphenylpyruvate Dioxygenase / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Acetoacetates / urine
  • Amino Acid Metabolism, Inborn Errors / drug therapy*
  • Amino Acid Metabolism, Inborn Errors / genetics*
  • Aminolevulinic Acid / urine
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cyclohexanones / therapeutic use*
  • Erythrocytes / enzymology
  • Heptanoates / blood
  • Heptanoates / urine
  • Humans
  • Hydroxybenzoates / urine
  • Infant
  • Kidney Tubules / physiology
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver / physiology
  • Nitrobenzoates / therapeutic use*
  • Phenylalanine / blood
  • Phosphates / blood
  • Porphobilinogen Synthase / blood
  • Proteinuria / urine
  • Tyrosine / blood*
  • alpha-Fetoproteins / analysis


  • Acetoacetates
  • Cyclohexanones
  • Heptanoates
  • Hydroxybenzoates
  • Nitrobenzoates
  • Phosphates
  • alpha-Fetoproteins
  • Tyrosine
  • Phenylalanine
  • succinylacetone
  • succinylacetoacetate
  • Aminolevulinic Acid
  • 4-Hydroxyphenylpyruvate Dioxygenase
  • Porphobilinogen Synthase
  • phenolic acid
  • nitisinone