Myelin Deficiency in Experimental Phenylketonuria: Contribution of the Aromatic Acid Metabolites of Phenylalanine

  • Yen Hoong Loo
  • Joseph Scotto
  • Henryk M. Wisniewski
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 100)


Retarded body and brain growth and a deficit of myelin in the cerebral hemispheres and the cerebellum were observed in an animal model of phenylketonuria, the p-chlorophenylalanine and L-phenylalanine treated preweanling rat. These manifestations of phenylketonuria were reproduced in rats treated with phenylacetate in amounts approximating those likely to be produced in phenyl­ketonuria. Young rats treated with equivalent amounts of other metabolites of phenylalanine, namely, phenylpyruvate, phenyllactate, and mandelate, which also accumulate in the brain during hyper­phenylalaninemia, did not exhibit any toxic effects. Phenyl­pyruvate did not give rise to phenylacetate in the brain, but a small percentage was converted to phenyllactate. The gross compo­sition of myelin isolated from the brains of saline and phenyl-acetate treated animals was similar.

At various time intervals after subcutaneous injection, phenylacetate in the brain reached levels thirty times those of phenylpyruvate and phenyllactate, although animals received equivalent amounts of the three metabolites. The retarded growth of the body and brain of the young animal treated with phenyl-acetate may be attributed to the formation of phenylacetylcoenzyme A in the tissues. The site of action is very likely linked to acylcoenzyme A metabolism, i.e., the synthesis and utilization of acetylCoA and acetoacetylCoA, which are involved in reactions generating ATP and energy and in the synthesis of cholesterol and fatty acids. Results of this investigation indicate that growth retardation induced by phenylacetate during the period of very rapid development of the brain is responsible for the mental retardation in phenylketonuria.


Cerebral Hemisphere Maple Syrup Urine Disease Platinum Oxide Phenylpyruvic Acid Purina Chow 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yen Hoong Loo
    • 1
  • Joseph Scotto
    • 1
  • Henryk M. Wisniewski
    • 1
  1. 1.New York State Institute for Basic Research in Mental RetardationStaten IslandUSA

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