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Clin Biochem Rev. 2011 Feb;32(1):33-43.

Trimethylaminuria: causes and diagnosis of a socially distressing condition.

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  • 1Biochemistry Unit and.

Abstract

Trimethylaminuria is a disorder in which the volatile, fish-smelling compound, trimethylamine (TMA) accumulates and is excreted in the urine, but is also found in the sweat and breath of these patients. Because many patients have associated body odours or halitosis, trimethylaminuria sufferers can meet serious difficulties in a social context, leading to other problems such as isolation and depression. TMA is formed by bacteria in the mammalian gut from reduction of compounds such as trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) and choline. Primary trimethylaminuria sufferers have an inherited enzyme deficiency where TMA is not efficiently converted to the non-odorous TMAO in the liver. Secondary causes of trimethylaminuria have been described, sometimes accompanied by genetic variations. Diagnosis of trimethylaminuria requires the measurement of TMA and TMAO in urine, which should be collected after a high substrate meal in milder or intermittent cases, most simply, a marine-fish meal. The symptoms of trimethylaminuria can be improved by changes in the diet to avoid precursors, in particular TMAO which is found in high concentrations in marine fish. Treatment with antibiotics to control bacteria in the gut, or activated charcoal to sequester TMA, may also be beneficial.

PMID:
21451776
[PubMed]
PMCID:
PMC3052392
Free PMC Article
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