Clinical and electroencephalogram characteristics of methylmalonic acidemia with MMACHC and MUT gene mutations

BMC Pediatr. 2024 Feb 14;24(1):119. doi: 10.1186/s12887-024-04559-8.


Objective: This study investigated the clinical, imaging, and electroencephalogram (EEG) characteristics of methylmalonic acidemia (MMA) with nervous system damage as the primary manifestation.

Methods: From January 2017 to November 2022, patients with nervous system injury as the main clinical manifestation, diagnosed with methylmalonic acidemia by metabolic and genetic testing, were enrolled and analyzed. Their clinical, imaging, and electroencephalogram data were analyzed.

Results: A total of 18 patients were enrolled, including 15 males and 3 females. The clinical symptoms were convulsions, poor feeding, growth retardation, disorder of consciousness, developmental delay, hypotonia, and blood system changes. There were 6 cases (33%) of hydrocephalus, 9 (50%) of extracerebral space widened, 5 (27%) of corpus callosum thinning, 3 (17%) of ventricular dilation, 3 (17%) of abnormal signals in the brain parenchyma (frontal lobe, basal ganglia region, and brain stem), and 3 (17%) of abnormal signals in the lateral paraventricular. In addition, there were 3 cases (17%) of cerebral white matter atrophy and 1 (5%) of cytotoxic edema in the basal ganglia and cerebral peduncle. EEG data displayed 2 cases (11%) of hypsarrhythmia, 3 (17%) of voltage reduction, 12(67%) of abnormal discharge, 13 (72%) of abnormal sleep physiological waves or abnormal sleep structure, 1 (5%) of immature (delayed) EEG development, and 8 (44%) of slow background. There were 2 cases (11%) of spasms, 1 (5%) of atonic seizures, and 1 (5%) of myoclonic seizures. There were 16 patients (89%) with hyperhomocysteinemia. During follow-up, 1 patient was lost to follow-up, and 1 died. In total, 87.5% (14/16) of the children had varying developmental delays. EEG was re-examined in 11 cases, of which 8 were normal, and 3 were abnormal. Treatments included intramuscular injections of vitamin B12, L-carnitine, betaine, folic acid, and oral antiepileptic therapy. Acute treatment included anti-infective, blood transfusion, fluid replacement, and correcting acidosis. The other treatments included low-protein diets and special formula milk powder.

Conclusion: Methylmalonic acidemia can affect the central nervous system, leading to structural changes or abnormal signals on brain MRI. Metabolic screening and genetic testing help clarify the diagnosis. EEG can reflect changes in brain waves during the acute phase.

Keywords: Developmental delay; EEG; Epilepsy; MRI; Methylmalonic academia.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Metabolism, Inborn Errors* / diagnosis
  • Amino Acid Metabolism, Inborn Errors* / genetics
  • Amino Acid Metabolism, Inborn Errors* / therapy
  • Child
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methylmalonic Acid
  • Mutation
  • Oxidoreductases / genetics
  • Seizures / drug therapy
  • Seizures / etiology
  • Vitamin B 12


  • Vitamin B 12
  • Methylmalonic Acid
  • MMACHC protein, human
  • Oxidoreductases

Supplementary concepts

  • Methylmalonic acidemia