Methylmalonic and propionic aciduria

Am J Med Genet C Semin Med Genet. 2006 May 15;142C(2):104-12. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.c.30090.


Methylmalonic and propionic aciduria (PA) are the most frequent forms of branched-chain organic acidurias. These autosomal recessive disorders result from deficient activity of methylmalonyl-CoA mutase and propionyl-CoA carboxylase, respectively. Clinically, acute or chronic neurologic signs are caused by the accumulation of toxic compounds proximal to the metabolic block. Phenotype varies from severe neonatal-onset forms with high mortality and poor outcome to milder forms with a later onset. In both cases the clinical course is dominated by the risk of relapses of life-threatening episodes of metabolic decompensation and of severe organ failure. Despite improvement of treatment, the overall outcome remains disappointing with no major differences between the two diseases. The diagnosis is based on the presence of characteristic compounds in body fluids as detected by organic acid analysis in urine and acylcarnitine profile in blood. Therapy is based on low-protein high-energy diet, carnitine supplementation, and metronidazole. Some patients with methylmalonic aciduria (MMA) respond to pharmacological doses of vitamin B12. Given the poor long-term prognosis, liver transplantation has been recently attempted as an alternative therapy to conventional medical treatment to cure the underlying metabolic defect. Nevertheless, the overall experience to date does not clearly demonstrate its effectiveness in preventing further deterioration or improving survival and quality of life. The recent implementation of neonatal screening by electrospray tandem mass spectrometry has decreased early mortality and improved the short-term outcome, without changing the detection rate of both diseases in the screening population compared to clinically detected cases. However, the limited number of patients and the short duration of their follow-up do not yet permit drawing final conclusions on its effect on the long-term outcome of methylmalonic and propionic acidemia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / diagnosis*
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / urine
  • Methylmalonic Acid / urine*
  • Propionates / urine*


  • Propionates
  • Methylmalonic Acid