Hyperammonemia :: etiology
Most cited papers:
Department of Pediatrics, Division of Medical Genetics, Stanford University, School of Medicine, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, Stanford, CA 94305-5208, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
BACKGROUND The combination of intravenous sodium phenylacetate and sodium benzoate has been shown to lower plasma ammonium levels and improve survival in small cohorts of patients with historically lethal urea-cycle enzyme defects. METHODS We report the results of a 25-year, open-label, uncontrolled study of sodium phenylacetate and sodium benzoate therapy (Ammonul, Ucyclyd Pharma) in 299 patients with urea-cycle disorders in whom there were 1181 episodes of acute hyperammonemia. RESULTS Overall survival was 84%(250 of 299 patients). Ninety-six percent of the patients survived episodes of hyperammonemia (1132 of 1181 episodes). Patients over 30 days of age were more likely than neonates to survive an episode (98% vs. 73%, P<0.001). Patients 12 or more years of age (93 patients), who had 437 episodes, were more likely than all younger patients to survive (99%, P<0.001). Eighty-one percent of patients who were comatose at admission survived. Patients less than 30 days of age with a peak ammonium level above 1000 micromol per liter (1804 microg per deciliter) were least likely to survive a hyperammonemic episode (38%, P<0.001). Dialysis was also used in 56 neonates during 60% of episodes and in 80 patients 30 days of age or older during 7% of episodes. CONCLUSIONS Prompt recognition of a urea-cycle disorder and treatment with both sodium phenylacetate and sodium benzoate, in conjunction with other therapies, such as intravenous arginine hydrochloride and the provision of adequate calories to prevent catabolism, effectively lower plasma ammonium levels and result in survival in the majority of patients. Hemodialysis may also be needed to control hyperammonemia, especially in neonates and older patients who do not have a response to intravenous sodium phenylacetate and sodium benzoate.
Children's National Medical Center, Washington, DC 20010, USA.
Alternative pathway therapy is currently an accepted treatment approach for inborn errors of the urea cycle. This involves the long-term use of oral sodium phenylbutyrate, arginine supplements, or both, depending on the specific enzyme deficiency, and treatment of acute hyperammonemic crises with intravenous sodium benzoate/sodium phenylacetate plus arginine. A review of 20 years of experience with this approach illustrates the strengths and limitations of this treatment. It has clearly decreased the mortality and morbidity from these disorders, but they remain unacceptably high. The medications are generally well tolerated, but severe accidental overdosage has been reported because of the infrequent use of the medication. There is also a difference in their metabolism between newborns and older children that must be addressed in determining dosage. To avoid these complications it is recommended that drug levels in blood be monitored routinely and that very specific treatment protocols and oversight be followed to avoid overdoses. Finally, it must be acknowledged that alternative pathway therapy has limited effectiveness in preventing hyperammonemia and must be combined with effective dietary management. Therefore in children with neonatal-onset disease or in those with very poor metabolic control, liver transplantation should be considered. There should also be the continued search for innovative therapies that may offer a more permanent and complete correction, such as gene therapy.
Division of Medical Genetics, Department of Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee 37232-2578, USA.
The treatment of newborns with urea cycle disorders has evolved over the years into a complex multidisciplinary effort. The complexity derives from the number of issues that must be addressed simultaneously. At the Urea Cycle Disorders Consensus Meeting held in Washington, D.C., a panel of physicians and other professionals with extensive experience in this field was assembled to bring some systematization to this task. This manuscript is a condensation of the collective opinion and experience of that group. The outcome of untreated or poorly treated patients with urea cycle disorders is universally bad. Although a favorable outcome is not always feasible, even with the best therapy, the methods outlined here should help treat such a patient by drawing on the experience of others who have treated patients with urea cycle disorders. This article does not purport to be the final word in treating children with these disorders. However, by establishing some common ground, new methods can be tried and compared with existing ones. In a future that holds the prospect of gene therapy "cures" for these diseases, striving for the best possible outcome in the critical newborn period is a worthy goal.
Laboratoire Central de Chimie Clinique, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, University of Lausanne, Switzerland. Claude.Bachmann@chuv.hospvd.ch
Hyperammonemia is mainly found in hepatic encephalopathy and in genetic defects of the urea cycle or other pathways of the intermediary metabolism. Clinically a difference has to be made between chronic moderate hyperammonemia and acutely increased concentrations. Pathogenetic mechanisms of ammonia toxicity to the brain are partly unraveled. In some animal models confounding variables, such as the reduced intake of food and amino acid imbalance due to liver insufficiency, do not allow to establish unequivocal causal relationships between the ammonia concentration and measured effects. In chronic moderate hyperammonemia an increased flux through the serotonin pathway is a key factor. It is caused by an increased transport of large neutral amino acids (including tryptophan) through the blood-brain barrier, accentuated by the imbalance of plasma amino acids in hepatic insufficiency. It is stimulated by D- or L-glutamine. Evidence is presented showing that a functioning gamma-glutamyl cycle (glutathione formation) is a prerequisite. In acute hyperammonemia involvement of NMDA receptors, glutamate, NO and cGMP plays an additional role. In hyperammonemic crises the increased cerebral blood flow leads to brain edema; factors discussed here are increased osmolytes in astrocytes and serotoninergic activity. Recent data indicate that axonal development is affected by ammonia and can be normalized in vitro by creatine supplementation in developing mixed brain cell aggregate cultures, thus reviving the old hypothesis of the impact of hyperammonemia on energy metabolism in the developing brain that could cause mental retardation.
Department of Neurotoxicology, M. Mossakowski Medical Research Centre, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland. email@example.com
Glutamine (Gln) abounds in the central nervous system (CNS), and its interstitial and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) concentrations are at least one order of magnitude higher than of any other amino acid. Gln transport from blood to the brain is insufficient to meet the demand of the brain tissues for this amino acid. This demand is met by intracerebral Gln synthesis from glutamate (Glu), a reaction carried out by glutamine synthetase (GS), an enzyme residing in astrocytes. A major proportion of astroglia-derived Gln is shuttled to neurons where it is degraded by phosphate-activated glutaminase (PAG) giving rise to the excitatory neurotransmitter amino acid Glu, which is also a precursor of the inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Glu released from neurons is taken up by astrocytes, and reconverted to Gln, closing the so called "glutamate-glutamine" cycle. A portion of Gln serves as an energy metabolite, and part of it leaves the brain to blood. Gln efflux from astrocytes, its neuronal uptake and egress to the blood via the cerebral capillary endothelial cells is mediated by different amino acid carriers showing i) considerable preference for Gln, ii) distribution between astrocytes and neurons that favors astrocyte-to-neuron fluxes of the amino acid. The Gln-specific carriers also largely contribute to Gln efflux from the brain to the vascular bed. Excessive accumulation of Gln in brain cells may be deleterious to brain function. In hyperammonemia associated with acute liver failure, excess Gln leads to cerebral edema, which largely results from its interference with mitochondrial function and partly from its osmotic action. Future analyses of the roles of Gln in both normal and abnormal cerebral metabolism and function will have to account for its newly recognized direct involvement in the regulation of gene transcription and/or translation.
Cerebral metabolic disturbances in the brain during acute liver failure: from hyperammonemia to energy failure and proteolysis.
Department of Hepato-Gastroenterology, Aarhus University Hospital, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark. firstname.lastname@example.org
Several observations suggest that patients with fulminant hepatic failure may suffer from disturbances in cerebral metabolism that can be related to elevated levels of arterial ammonia. One effect of ammonia is the inhibition of the rate limiting TCA cycle enzyme alpha-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase (alphaKGDH) and possibly also pyruvate dehydrogenase, but this has been regarded to be of no quantitative importance. However, recent studies justify a revision of this point of view. Based on published data, the following sequence of events is proposed. Inhibition of alphaKGDH both enhances the detoxification of ammonia by formation of glutamine from alpha-ketoglutarate and reduces the rate of NADH and oxidative ATP production in astrocytic mitochondria. In the astrocytic cytosol this will lead to formation of lactate even in the presence of sufficient oxygen supply. Since the aspartate-malate shuttle is compromised, there is a risk of depletion of mitochondrial NADH and ATP unless compensatory mechanisms are recruited. One likely compensatory mechanism is the use of amino acids for energy production. Branched chain amino acids, like isoleucine and valine can supply carbon skeletons that bypass the alphaKGDH inhibition and maintain TCA cycle activity. Large-scale consumption of certain amino acids can only be maintained by cerebral proteolysis, as has been observed in these patients. This hypothesis provides a link between hyperammonemia, ammonia detoxification by glutamine production, cerebral lactate production, and cerebral catabolic proteolysis in patients with FHF.
The kidney plays a major role in the hyperammonemia seen after simulated or actual GI bleeding in patients with cirrhosis.
Steven W M Olde Damink, Rajiv Jalan, Nicolaas E P Deutz, Doris N Redhead, Cornelis H C Dejong, Paula Hynd, Rosy A Jalan, Peter C Hayes, Peter B Soeters
Department of Surgery, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands.
Upper gastrointestinal (UGI) bleeding in cirrhosis is associated with enhanced ammoniagenesis, the site of which is thought to be the colon. The aims of this study were to evaluate interorgan metabolism of ammonia following an UGI bleed in patients with cirrhosis. Study 1: UGI bleed was simulated in 8 patients with cirrhosis and a transjugular intrahepatic portasystemic stent-shunt (TIPSS) by intragastric infusion of an amino acid solution that mimics the hemoglobin molecule. We sampled blood from the femoral artery and a femoral, renal, portal, and hepatic vein for 4 hours during the simulated bleed and measured plasma flows across these organs. Study 2: In 9 cirrhotic patients with an acute UGI bleed that underwent TIPSS insertion, blood was sampled from an artery and a hepatic, renal, and portal vein, and plasma flows were measured. Study 1: During the simulated bleed, arterial concentrations of ammonia increased significantly (P =.002). There was no change in ammonia production from the portal drained viscera, but renal ammonia production increased 6-fold (P =.008). In contrast to an unchanged ammonia removal by the liver, a significant increase in muscle ammonia removal was observed. Study 2: In patients with an acute UGI bleed, ammonia was only produced by the kidneys (572  nmol/kg bw/min) and not by the splanchnic area (-121  nmol/kg bw/min). In conclusion, enhanced renal ammonia release has an important role in the hyperammonemia that follows an UGI bleed in patients with cirrhosis. During this hyperammonemic state, muscle is the major site of ammonia removal.
Metabolic Clinic, Child Development and Rehabilitation Center, Doernbecher Children's Hospital, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, Oregon 97201, USA.
The urea cycle disorders (UCDs) represent a group of inherited metabolic diseases with hyperammonemia as the primary laboratory abnormality. Affected individuals may become comatose or die if not treated rapidly. Diagnosis of a UCD requires a high index of suspicion and judicious use of the laboratory. It is important to rule out other conditions causing hyperammonemia that may require different treatment. The astute clinician may suspect a specific UCD in the appropriate clinical setting, but only laboratory results can confirm a specific diagnosis. The importance of the laboratory in helping the clinician to differentiate among various causes of hyperammonemia, in confirming a specific UCD, in carrier testing, and in prenatal diagnostic testing is highlighted in this review.
Department of General Paediatrics, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University of Frankfurt a.M., Theodor Stern Kai 7, D-60590 Frankfurt, Germany. Boris-Rainer.Gebhardt@kgu.de
In patients with propionic aciduria, the accumulating metabolite propionyl-CoA causes a disturbance of the urea cycle via the inhibition of N-acetylglutamate synthesis. Lack of this allosteric activator results in an inhibition of carbamoylphosphate synthase (CPS). This finally leads to hyperammonaemia. In two patients with decompensated propionic aciduria the CPS activator carbamylglutamate was tested for its ability to antagonize the propionyl-CoA associated hyperammonaemia. Oral carbamyl glutamate administration resulted in a significant increase in ammonia detoxification and could avoid further dialysis therapy. Safe, fast and easy to administer, carbamyl glutamate improves the acute therapy of decompensated propionic aciduria by increasing ammonia detoxification and avoiding hyperammonaemia.
Marshall L Summar, Frederick Barr, Sheila Dawling, Wendy Smith, Brendan Lee, Rani H Singh, William J Rhead, Lisa Sniderman King, Brian W Christman
Center for Human Genetic Research, Division of Medical Genetics, Department of Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN 37232-0165, USA. email@example.com
Most often, urea cycle disorders have been described as acute onset hyperammonemia in the newborn period; however, there is a growing awareness that urea cycle disorders can present at almost any age, frequently in the critical care setting. This article presents three cases of adult-onset hyperammonemia caused by inherited defects in nitrogen processing in the urea cycle, and reviews the diagnosis, management, and pathophysiology of adult-onset urea cycle disorders. Individuals who have milder molecular urea cycle defects can lead a relatively normal life until a severe environmental stress triggers a hyperammonemic crisis. Comorbid conditions such as physical trauma often delay the diagnosis of the urea cycle defect. Prompt recognition and treatment are essential in determining the outcome of these patients.