Disturbed phospholipid metabolism in serine biosynthesis defects revealed by metabolomic profiling

Mol Genet Metab. 2018 Mar;123(3):309-316. doi: 10.1016/j.ymgme.2017.12.009. Epub 2017 Dec 12.


Serine biosynthesis defects are autosomal recessive metabolic disorders resulting from the deficiency of any of the three enzymes involved in de novo serine biosynthesis, specifically phosphoglycerate dehydrogenase (PGDH), phosphoserine aminotransferase (PSAT), and phosphoserine phosphatase (PSP). In this study, we performed metabolomic profiling on 4 children with serine biosynthesis defects; 3 with PGDH deficiency and 1 with PSAT deficiency. The evaluations were performed at baseline and with serine and glycine supplementation. Metabolomic profiling performed at baseline showed low phospholipid species, including glycerophosphocholine, glycerophosphoethanolamine, and sphingomyelin. All children had low serine and glycine as expected. Low glycerophosphocholine compounds were found in 4 children, low glycerophosphoethanolamine compounds in 3 children, and low sphingomyelin species in 2 children. Metabolic profiling with serine and glycine supplementation showed normalization of most of the low phospholipid compounds in the 4 children. Phospholipids are the major component of plasma and intracellular membranes, and phosphatidylcholine is the most abundant phospholipid of all mammalian cell types and subcellular organelles. Phosphatidylcholine is of particular importance for the nervous system, where it is essential for neuronal differentiation. The observed low phosphatidylcholine species in children with serine biosynthesis defects that improved after serine supplementation, supports the role of serine as a significant precursor for phosphatidylcholine. The vital role that phosphatidylcholine has during neuronal differentiation and the pronounced neurological manifestations in serine biosynthesis defects suggest that phosphatidylcholine deficiency occurring secondary to serine deficiency may have a significant contribution to the development of the neurological manifestations in individuals with serine biosynthesis defects.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Carbohydrate Metabolism, Inborn Errors / blood
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism, Inborn Errors / diet therapy
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism, Inborn Errors / metabolism*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Glycine / administration & dosage*
  • Glycine / blood
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Metabolomics / methods
  • Microcephaly / blood
  • Microcephaly / diet therapy
  • Microcephaly / metabolism*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Phosphatidylcholines / metabolism*
  • Phosphoglycerate Dehydrogenase / blood
  • Phosphoglycerate Dehydrogenase / deficiency*
  • Phosphoglycerate Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Psychomotor Disorders / blood
  • Psychomotor Disorders / diet therapy
  • Psychomotor Disorders / metabolism*
  • Seizures / blood
  • Seizures / diet therapy
  • Seizures / metabolism*
  • Serine / administration & dosage
  • Serine / biosynthesis*
  • Serine / blood
  • Transaminases / blood
  • Transaminases / deficiency*
  • Transaminases / metabolism


  • Phosphatidylcholines
  • Serine
  • Phosphoglycerate Dehydrogenase
  • Transaminases
  • Glycine

Supplementary concepts

  • Phosphoglycerate Dehydrogenase Deficiency
  • Phosphoserine Aminotransferase Deficiency