Alteration of ornithine metabolism leads to dominant and recessive hereditary spastic paraplegia

Brain. 2015 Aug;138(Pt 8):2191-205. doi: 10.1093/brain/awv143. Epub 2015 May 29.


Hereditary spastic paraplegias are heterogeneous neurological disorders characterized by a pyramidal syndrome with symptoms predominantly affecting the lower limbs. Some limited pyramidal involvement also occurs in patients with an autosomal recessive neurocutaneous syndrome due to ALDH18A1 mutations. ALDH18A1 encodes delta-1-pyrroline-5-carboxylate synthase (P5CS), an enzyme that catalyses the first and common step of proline and ornithine biosynthesis from glutamate. Through exome sequencing and candidate gene screening, we report two families with autosomal recessive transmission of ALDH18A1 mutations, and predominant complex hereditary spastic paraplegia with marked cognitive impairment, without any cutaneous abnormality. More interestingly, we also identified monoallelic ALDH18A1 mutations segregating in three independent families with autosomal dominant pure or complex hereditary spastic paraplegia, as well as in two sporadic patients. Low levels of plasma ornithine, citrulline, arginine and proline in four individuals from two families suggested P5CS deficiency. Glutamine loading tests in two fibroblast cultures from two related affected subjects confirmed a metabolic block at the level of P5CS in vivo. Besides expanding the clinical spectrum of ALDH18A1-related pathology, we describe mutations segregating in an autosomal dominant pattern. The latter are associated with a potential trait biomarker; we therefore suggest including amino acid chromatography in the clinico-genetic work-up of hereditary spastic paraplegia, particularly in dominant cases, as the associated phenotype is not distinct from other causative genes.

Keywords: ALDH18A1; citrulline; delta-1-pyrroline-5-carboxylate synthase; hereditary spastic paraplegia; ornithine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aldehyde Dehydrogenase / genetics*
  • Arginine / metabolism
  • Female
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation / genetics*
  • Ornithine / genetics*
  • Ornithine / metabolism*
  • Pedigree
  • Phenotype
  • Spastic Paraplegia, Hereditary / genetics*
  • Spastic Paraplegia, Hereditary / metabolism
  • Young Adult


  • Glutamic Acid
  • Arginine
  • Ornithine
  • ALDH18A1 protein, human
  • Aldehyde Dehydrogenase