L-2-hydroxyglutaric acidaemia: clinical and biochemical findings in 12 patients and preliminary report on L-2-hydroxyacid dehydrogenase

J Inherit Metab Dis. 1993;16(4):753-61. doi: 10.1007/BF00711907.


L-2-Hydroxyglutaric acidaemia represents a newly defined inborn error of metabolism, with increased levels of L-2-hydroxyglutaric acid in urine, plasma and cerebrospinal fluid. The concentration in cerebrospinal fluid is higher than in plasma. The other consistent biochemical finding is an increase of lysine in blood and cerebrospinal fluid, but lysine loading does not increase L-2-hydroxyglutaric acid concentration in plasma. This autosomal recessively inherited disease is expressed as progressive ataxia, mental deficiency with subcortical leukoencephalopathy and cerebellar atrophy on magnetic resonance imaging. Since these features were described in 8 patients by Barth and co-workers in 1992, 4 more patients with similar findings have been diagnosed and added to the present series. L-2-Hydroxyglutaric acid is found in only trace amounts on routine gas chromatographic screening in normal persons, and its origin, its fate and even its relevance to normal metabolism are unknown. Therefore its catabolism was studied in normal liver. Incubation of rat liver with L-2-hydroxyglutaric acid did not produce H2O2, which excluded (peroxisomal) L-2-hydroxyacid oxidase as the main route of catabolism. However, L-2-hydroxyglutaric acid is rapidly dehydrogenated if NAD+ is added as a co-factor to the standard reaction medium. This could also be demonstrated in human liver. The preliminary evidence for this enzyme activity in rats and humans, L-2-hydroxyglutaric acid dehydrogenase, is given. Further investigations are required to clarify the possible relevance to the metabolic defect in L-2-hydroxyglutaric acidaemia.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Oxidoreductases / metabolism*
  • Amino Acid Metabolism, Inborn Errors / enzymology*
  • Amino Acid Metabolism, Inborn Errors / pathology
  • Brain / pathology
  • Child
  • Female
  • Glutarates / blood*
  • Glutarates / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Humans
  • Lysine / blood
  • Lysine / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male


  • Glutarates
  • alpha-hydroxyglutarate
  • Alcohol Oxidoreductases
  • 2-hydroxyacid dehydrogenase
  • Lysine