Striatal degeneration from glutaryl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency (glutaric aciduria type 1, GA1) is associated with cerebral formation and entrapment of glutaryl-CoA and its derivatives that depend on cerebral lysine influx. In 2006 we designed a lysine-free study formula enriched with arginine to selectively block lysine transport across cerebral endothelia and thereby limit glutaryl-CoA production by brain. Between 2006 and present, we treated twelve consecutive children with study formula (LYSx group) while holding all other treatment practices constant. Clinical and biochemical outcomes were compared to 25 GA1 patients (PROx group) treated between 1995 and 2005 with natural protein restriction (dietary lysine/arginine ratio of 1.7±0.3 mg:mg). We used published kinetic parameters of the y+and LAT1 blood-brain barrier transporters to model the influx of amino acids into the brain. Arginine fortification to achieve a mean dietary lysine/arginine ratio of 0.7±0.2 mg:mg was neuroprotective. All 12 LYSx patients are physically and neurologically healthy after 28 aggregate patient-years of follow up (current ages 28±21 months) and there were no adverse events related to formula use. This represents a 36% reduction of neurological risk (95% confidence interval 14-52%, p=0.018) that we can directly attribute to altered amino acid intake. During the first year of life, 20% lower lysine intake and two-fold higher arginine intake by LYSx patients were associated with 50% lower plasma lysine, 3-fold lower plasma lysine/arginine concentration ratio, 42% lower mean calculated cerebral lysine influx, 54% higher calculated cerebral arginine influx, 15-26% higher calculated cerebral influx of several anaplerotic precursors (isoleucine, threonine, methionine, and leucine), 50% less 3-hydroxyglutarate excretion, and a 3-fold lower hospitalization rate (0.8 versus 2.3 hospitalizations per patient per year). The relationship between arginine fortification and plasma lysine indicates that transport competition exists at both cerebrovascular and gastrointestinal barriers, suggesting their co-administration is key to efficacy. Monitoring the ratio between lysine and arginine in diet and plasma may prove a useful strategy for treating children with GA1.
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