Background and Aims
Phenylalanine-restricted diets have proven effective in treating phenylketonuria. However, such diets have occasionally been reported to hinder normal development. Our study aimed to assess whether treating 0–4-year-old phenylketonuric patients with 6R-tetrahydrobiopterin might prevent growth retardation later in life.
We conducted a longitudinal retrospective study which examined anthropometric characteristics of phenylketonuric patients on 6R-tetrahydrobiopterin therapy (22 subjects), and compared them with a group of phenylketonuric patients on protein-restricted diets (44 subjects). Nutritional issues were also considered. We further explored possible relationships between mutations in the PAH gene, BH4 responsiveness and growth outcome.
No significant growth improvements were observed in either the group on 6R-tetrahydrobiopterin treatment (height Z-score: initial = − 0.57 ± 1.54; final = − 0.52 ± 1.29; BMI Z-score: initial = 0.17 ± 1.05; final = 0.18 ± 1.00) or the diet-only group (height Z-score: initial = − 0.92 ± 0.96; final = − 0.78 ± 1.08; BMI Z-score: initial = 0.17 ± 0.97; final = − 0.07 ± 1.03) over the 1-year observation period. Furthermore, we found no significant differences (p > 0.05) between the two groups at any of the time points considered (0, 6 and 12 months). Patients on 6R-tetrahydrobiopterin increased their phenylalanine intake (from 49.1 [25.6–60.3] to 56.5 [39.8–68.3] mg kg− 1 day− 1) and natural protein intake (from 1.0 [0.8–1.7] to 1.5 [1.0–1.8] g kg− 1 day− 1), and some patients managed to adopt normal diets. Higher phenylalanine and natural protein intakes were positively correlated with better physical outcomes in the diet-only group (p < 0.05). No correlation was found between patient genotype and physical outcomes, results being similar regardless of the nutritional approach used. We did not detect any side effects due to 6R-tetrahydrobiopterin administration.
Our study indicates that treating 0–4-year-old phenylketonuric patients with 6R-tetrahydrobiopterin is safe. However, poor developmental outcomes were observed, despite increasing the intake of natural proteins. Genotype could be a valid predictor of tetrahydrobiopterin-responsiveness, since patients who carried the same genotype responded similarly to the 6R-tetrahydrobiopterin loading test. On the other hand, harbouring 6R-tetrahydrobiopterin responsive genotypes did not predispose patients to better physical outcomes.
Aldámiz-Echevarría, L., Bueno, M.A., Couce, M.L., Lage, S., Dalmau, J., Vitoria, I., Llarena, M., Andrade, F., Blasco, J., Alcalde, C., Gil, D., García, M.C., González-Lamuño, D., Ruiz, M., Ruiz, M.A., Peña-Quintana, L., González, D., and Sánchez-Valverde, F. (2015): 6R-tetrahydrobiopterin treated PKU patients below 4years of age: Physical outcomes, nutrition and genotype. Molecular Genetics and Metabolism 115 (1): 10-16. DOI: 10.1016/j.ymgme.2015.03.007