Metabolic disorders of purine metabolism affecting the nervous system

Handb Clin Neurol. 2013;113:1827-36. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-59565-2.00052-6.


The purines are a group of molecules used by all cells for many vital biochemical processes including energy-requiring enzymatic reactions, cofactor-requiring reactions, synthesis of DNA or RNA, signaling pathways within and between cells, and other processes. Defects in some of the enzymes of purine metabolism are known to be associated with specific clinical disorders, and neurological problems may be a presenting sign or the predominant clinical problem for several of them. This chapter describes three disorders for which the clinical features and metabolic basis are well characterized. Deficiency of adenylosuccinate-lyase (ADSL) causes psychomotor retardation, epilepsy, and autistic features. Lesch-Nyhan disease is caused by deficiency of hypoxanthine-guanine phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT) and is characterized by hyperuricemia, motor and cognitive disability, and self-injurious behavior. Deficiency of myoadenylate deaminase (mAMPD) is associated with myopathic features. In addition to these disorders, several other disorders are briefly summarized. These include defects of phosphoribosylpyrophosphate synthase, adenosine deaminase (ADA), purine nucleoside phosphorylase (PND), deoxyguanosine kinase (dGK), or IMP dehydrogenase (IMPDH). Each of these disorders provides an unusual window on the unique importance of purine metabolism for function of different parts of the nervous system.

MeSH terms

  • AMP Deaminase / deficiency*
  • AMP Deaminase / genetics
  • AMP Deaminase / metabolism
  • Adenylosuccinate Lyase / deficiency*
  • Adenylosuccinate Lyase / genetics
  • Adenylosuccinate Lyase / metabolism
  • Autistic Disorder
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome / genetics
  • Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome / metabolism
  • Purine-Pyrimidine Metabolism, Inborn Errors / diagnosis*
  • Purine-Pyrimidine Metabolism, Inborn Errors / genetics
  • Purine-Pyrimidine Metabolism, Inborn Errors / metabolism


  • AMP Deaminase
  • Adenylosuccinate Lyase

Supplementary concepts

  • Adenosine monophosphate deaminase deficiency
  • Adenylosuccinate lyase deficiency