In vivo propionate oxidation as a prognostic indicator in disorders of propionate metabolism
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Biochemical markers such as plasma and urinary metabolite concentrations and in vitro enzyme activity are of limited prognostic value in the most common disorders of propionate metabolism, methylmalonic acidaemia (MMA) and propionic acidaemia (PA). In vivo propionate oxidation was compared with conventional prognostic measures as predictors of clinical severity in seven children with MMA and six with PA. Propionate oxidation was measured using a continuous infusion of [1-13C]propionate and was expressed as the rate of appearance of13CO2 as a percentage of the propionate infusion rate. Children with MMA (mean oxidation 51.2%, range 17.5–91.6,P<0.05) and with PA (mean oxidation 36.3%, range 3.0–91.1,P=NS) oxidised substantially less propionate than controls (mean oxidation 81.9%, range 69.4–101.0,n=5). Percentage oxidation was a better predictor of the clinical severity score (r=0.75,P<0.01) than was in vitro enzyme activity, plasma propionate or methylmalonate concentration or urinary metabolite excretion. Studies were repeated after an interval of 1–3 weeks in six of the subjects; the percentage oxidation in each subject was virtually unchanged between studies (coefficient of variation 8.6%). These results suggest that in vivo oxidation measurements using [13C]propionate are both reproducible and prognostically useful in disorders of propionate metabolism.
Key wordsPropionate Stable isotope Oxidation Methylmalonic acidaemia Propionic acidaemia
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