We present a case study of a 20-year-old male with an unknown neurodegenerative disease who was referred to the Undiagnosed Diseases Network Vanderbilt Medical Center site. A previous metabolic panel showed that the patient had a critical deficiency in nicotinamide intermediates that are generated during the biosynthesis of NAD(H). We followed up on these findings by evaluating the patient's ability to metabolize nicotinamide. We performed a global metabolic profiling analysis of plasma samples that were collected: (1) under normal fed conditions (baseline), (2) after the patient had fasted, and (3) after he was challenged with a 500 mg nasogastric tube bolus of nicotinamide following the fast. Our findings showed that the patient's nicotinamide N-methyltransferase (NNMT), a key enzyme in NAD(H) biosynthesis and methionine metabolism, was not functional under normal fed or fasting conditions but was restored in response to the nicotinamide challenge. Altered levels of metabolites situated downstream of NNMT and in neighboring biochemical pathways provided further evidence of a baseline defect in NNMT activity. To date, this is the only report of a critical defect in NNMT activity manifesting in adulthood and leading to neurodegenerative disease. Altogether, this study serves as an important reference in the rare disease literature and also demonstrates the utility of metabolomics as a diagnostic tool for uncharacterized metabolic diseases.
Keywords: NADH deficiency; NADH metabolism; errors of metabolism; nicotinamide; nicotinamide N-methyltransferase; nicotinamide N-methyltransferase deficiency.