Ethylmalonic encephalopathy: clinical and biochemical observations

Neuropediatrics. 2007 Apr;38(2):78-82. doi: 10.1055/s-2007-984447.


Ethylmalonic encephalopathy (EE) is a rare, recently defined inborn error of metabolism which affects the brain, gastrointestinal system and peripheral blood vessels and is characterized by a unique constellation of clinical and biochemical features. A 7-month-old male, who presented with psychomotor retardation, chronic diarrhea and relapsing petechiae is described with the objective of highlighting the biochemical and neuroradiological features of this disorder as well as the effect of high-dose riboflavin therapy. Urinary organic acid analysis revealed markedly increased excretion of ethylmalonic acid, isobutyrylglycine, 2-methylbutyrylglycine and isovalerylglycine. Acylcarnitine analysis in dried blood spots showed increased butyrylcarnitine. Short-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase (SCAD) activity in muscle was normal as were mitochondrial OXPHOS enzyme activities in cultured skin fibroblasts. In skeletal muscle the catalytic activity of complex II was decreased. Brain MRI revealed bilateral and symmetrical atrophy in the fronto-temporal areas, massive enlargement of the subarachnoid spaces and hyperdensities on T (2) sequences of the basal ganglia. Mutation analysis of the ETHE1 gene demonstrated homozygosity for the Arg163Gly mutation, confirming the diagnosis of EE at a molecular level. On repeat MRI, a significant deterioration was seen, correlating well with the clinical deterioration of the patient.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Brain Diseases, Metabolic, Inborn / diagnosis*
  • Brain Diseases, Metabolic, Inborn / genetics
  • Brain Diseases, Metabolic, Inborn / metabolism
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Malonates / metabolism*
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / genetics
  • Nucleocytoplasmic Transport Proteins / genetics


  • ETHE1 protein, human
  • Malonates
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Nucleocytoplasmic Transport Proteins
  • ethylmalonic acid