Author: ngatchou doriane
Date: 05/02/2012



Phenylketonuria (PKU) is an autosomal recessive metabolic genetic disorder characterized by a mutation in the gene for the hepatic enzyme phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH), rendering it nonfunctional.1:541 This enzyme is necessary to metabolize the amino acid phenylalanine (Phe) to the amino acid tyrosine. When PAH activity is reduced, phenylalanine accumulates and is converted into phenylpyruvate (also known as phenylketone), which is detected in the urine.2


Since its discovery, there have been many advances in its treatment. It can now be successfully managed by the patient under ongoing medical supervision to avoid the more serious side effects. If, however, the condition is left untreated, it can cause problems with brain development, leading to progressive mental retardation, brain damage, and seizures. Early cases of PKU were treated with a low-phenylalanine diet. More recent research has now shown that diet alone may not be enough to prevent the negative effects of elevated phenylalanine levels. Optimal treatment involves maintaining blood Phe levels in a safe range while monitoring diet and cognitive development. There is no cure for PKU, but patients who are diagnosed early and maintain a strict diet can have a normal life span with normal mental development


Experimental hyperphenylalaninemia has been induced in 5-day-old chicks by dietary treatments with phenylalanine and alpha-methylphenylalanine. An increase of nearly 8-fold in plasma Phe/Tyr ratio was found after 4 days of supplementation the standard diet with 5% phenylalanine plus 0.4% alpha-methylphenylalanine. The increase in this ratio was about 13-fold after 9 days of the same treatment. Similar results were observed in brain and liver, although the increases were smaller than those found in plasma. Total body, brain and liver weight decreased after 9 days of treatment. Phenylalanine plus alpha-methylphenylalanine administration to 5-day-old chicks produced a significant decrease in the 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase and mevalonate-5-pyrophosphate decarboxylase specific activities from both brain and liver. These results demonstrated for the first time that experimental hyperphenylalaninemia inhibited different enzyme activities directly implicated in the regulation of cholesterogenesis. Therefore, a reduced cholesterol synthesis in brain may evidenciate the theory of an impaired myelination leading to mental retardation in phenylketonuria patients


All animal cells manufacture cholesterol with relative production rates varying by cell type and organ function. About 20–25% of total daily cholesterol production occurs in the liver; other sites of higher synthesis rates include the intestines, adrenal glands, and reproductive organs. Synthesis within the body starts with one molecule of acetyl CoA and one molecule of acetoacetyl-CoA, which are hydrated to form 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl CoA (HMG-CoA). This molecule is then reduced to mevalonate by the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase. This step is the regulated, rate-limiting and irreversible step in cholesterol synthesis and is the site of action for the statin drugs (HMG-CoA reductase competitive inhibitors).

Mevalonate is then converted to 3-isopentenyl pyrophosphate in three reactions that require ATP. Mevalonate is decarboxylated to isopentenyl pyrophosphate, which is a key metabolite for various biological reactions. Three molecules of isopentenyl pyrophosphate condense to form farnesyl pyrophosphate through the action of geranyl transferase. Two molecules of farnesyl pyrophosphate then condense to form squalene by the action of squalene synthase in the endoplasmic reticulum. Oxidosqualene cyclase then cyclizes squalene to form lanosterol. Finally, lanosterol is then converted to cholesterol.26

Doriane Ngatchou(matr 724903).
medicina e chirurgia terzo anno.

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