Neonatal pyruvate dehydrogenase deficiency with lipoate responsive lactic acidaemia and hyperammonaemia

Eur J Pediatr. 1989 Apr;148(6):543-7. doi: 10.1007/BF00441554.


A 2-day-old girl developed a severe lactic acidosis with a normal lactate/pyruvate ratio and hyperammonaemia. Plasma arginine and citrulline levels were below the limit of detection. In muscle total pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (PDHC) and pyruvate decarboxylase (E1) activities were reduced to a fraction of lower control values. The acute neonatal period was bridged with peritoneal dialysis, dichloroacetate therapy, supplements of arginine and branched chain amino acids, a complete vitamin B complex and lipoic acid. Lactate homeostasis responded to pharmacological supplements of lipoic acid. At age 1 year the child was hypotonic, showed severe developmental retardation, optic atrophy and cranial dysmorphism. She died aged 1 year 8 months with signs of respiratory paralysis but with normal lactate levels under assisted breathing. Pathological findings at autopsy were suggestive of Leigh syndrome, interstitial pneumonia and extensive fatty infiltration of hepatocytes. Regression analysis of data from 187 plasma amino acid determinations from the patient over a period of 1 year 8 months revealed a persistent-imbalance involving alanine, glutamic acid, glutamine, proline, citrulline and branched chain amino acids. Aspects of acute and long-term therapy in this patient and some implications of the imbalances in plasma amino acids are discussed.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Acidosis, Lactic / blood
  • Acidosis, Lactic / drug therapy*
  • Acidosis, Lactic / etiology
  • Ammonia / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Complex Deficiency Disease / blood
  • Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Complex Deficiency Disease / complications*
  • Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Complex Deficiency Disease / diagnosis
  • Pyruvate Metabolism, Inborn Errors / complications*
  • Thioctic Acid / therapeutic use*


  • Thioctic Acid
  • Ammonia