Hepatocyte transplantation using the domino concept in a child with tetrabiopterin nonresponsive phenylketonuria

Cell Transplant. 2012;21(12):2765-70. doi: 10.3727/096368912X653255. Epub 2012 Aug 10.


Phenylketonuria is a metabolic disease caused by phenylalanine hydroxylase deficiency. Treatment is based on a strict natural protein-restricted diet that is associated with the risk of malnutrition and severe psychosocial burden. Oral administration of tetrahydrobiopterin can increase residual enzyme activity, but most patients with severe clinical phenotypes are nonresponders. We performed liver cell transplantation in a 6-year-old boy with severe tetrahydrobiopterin nonresponsive phenylketonuria who failed to comply with diet prescriptions. The transplanted hepatocytes were obtained in part from an explanted glycogen storage type 1b liver. Following two infusions, blood phenylalanine levels returned within the therapeutic target while the phenylalanine half-life assessed by loading tests decreased from 43 to 19 h. However, 3 months later, blood phenylalanine concentrations increased and the phenylalanine intake had to be reduced. Cell-based therapy is a promising therapeutic option in phenylketonuria, and the domino concept may solve the issue of cell sources for hepatocyte transplantation.

MeSH terms

  • Cell- and Tissue-Based Therapy
  • Child
  • Female
  • Glycogen Storage Disease Type I / therapy
  • Half-Life
  • Hepatocytes / cytology
  • Hepatocytes / transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Liver Function Tests
  • Male
  • Phenylalanine / blood
  • Phenylalanine Hydroxylase / genetics
  • Phenylalanine Hydroxylase / metabolism
  • Phenylketonurias / diagnosis
  • Phenylketonurias / therapy*


  • Phenylalanine
  • Phenylalanine Hydroxylase

Supplementary concepts

  • Glycogen Storage Disease IB