Antioxidant treatment strategies for hyperphenylalaninemia
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- Mazzola, P.N., Karikas, G.A., Schulpis, K.H. et al. Metab Brain Dis (2013) 28: 541. doi:10.1007/s11011-013-9414-2
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Hyperphenylalaninemia (HPA) leads to increased oxidative stress in patients with phenylketonuria (PKU) and in animal models of PKU. Early diagnosis and immediate adherence to a phenylalanine-restricted diet prevents HPA and, consequently, severe brain damage. However, treated adolescent and adult PKU patients have difficulties complying with the diet, leading to an oscillation of phenylalanine levels and associated oxidative stress. The brain is especially susceptible to reactive species, and oxidative stress might add to the impaired cognitive function found in these patients. The restricted PKU diet has a very limited nutrient content from natural foods and almost no animal protein, which reduces the intake of important compounds. These specific compounds can act as scavengers of reactive species and can be co-factors of antioxidant enzymes. Supplementation with nutrients, vitamins, and tetrahydropterin has given quite promising results in patients and animal models. Antioxidant supplementation has been studied in HPA, however there is no consensus about its always beneficial effects. In this way, regular exercise could be a beneficial addition on antioxidant status in PKU patients. A deeper understanding of PKU molecular biochemistry, and genetics, as well as the need for improved targeted treatment options, could lead to the development of new therapeutic strategies.