A new syndrome with ethylmalonic aciduria and normal fatty acid oxidation in fibroblasts

A. B. Burlina, C. Dionisi-Vici, M. J. Bennett, K. M. Gibson, S. Servidei, E. Bertini, D. E. Hale, E. Schmidt-Sommerfeld, G. Sabetta, F. Zacchello, P. Rinaldo

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Abstract

We describe four Italian male infants with a novel clinical phenotype characterized by orthostatic acrocyanosis, relapsing petechiae, chronic diarrhea, progressive pyramidal signs, mental retardation, and brain magnetic resonance imaging abnormalities. The first symptoms appeared after the termination of breast-feeding and introduction of formula feeding. Marked persistent 2-ethylmalonic aciduria was associated with abnormal excretion of C4-C5(n-butyryl-, isobutyryl-, osovaleryl-, and 2-methylbutyryl-)acylglycines and acylcarnitines and with intermittent lactic acidosis. Short- and branched-chain plasma acylcarnitine levels were also elevated. 2-Ethylmalonic aciduria is generally regarded as being indicative of a defect in fatty acid oxidation. Extensive studies of cultured fibroblasts failed to reveal such a defect. The observation of intermittent urinary excretion of 2-ethylhydracrylic acid pointed to involvement of the isoleucine R pathway in ethylmalonate biosynthesis. This hypothesis was tentatively corroborated by the biochemical responses to an oral isoleucine challenge in two patients. However, fibroblast studies showed normal oxidation rates of (14C)isoleucine (ul), indicating that this is not a defect of isoleucine oxidation expressed in skin fibroblasts. In one of the two patients tested, cytochrome c oxidase activity was partially reduced (45%) in cultured fibroblasts. This unique clinical and biochemical phenotype identifies a new metabolic encephalopathy of yet undedetermined cause.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-86
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
Volume124
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1994

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

Cite this

Burlina, A. B., Dionisi-Vici, C., Bennett, M. J., Gibson, K. M., Servidei, S., Bertini, E., Hale, D. E., Schmidt-Sommerfeld, E., Sabetta, G., Zacchello, F., & Rinaldo, P. (1994). A new syndrome with ethylmalonic aciduria and normal fatty acid oxidation in fibroblasts. Journal of Pediatrics, 124(1), 79-86.