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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2000 Mar 17;1500(3):291-6.

Purine metabolism abnormalities in a hyperuricosuric subclass of autism.

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Department of Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0624, USA.


A subclass of patients with classic infantile autism have uric acid excretion which is >2 S.D.s above the normal mean. These hyperuricosuric autistic individuals may comprise approx. 20% of the autistic population. In order to determine the metabolic basis for urate overexcretion in these patients, de novo purine synthesis was measured in the cultured skin fibroblasts of these patients by quantification of the radiolabeled purine compounds produced by incubation with radiolabeled sodium formate. For comparison, de novo purine synthesis in normal controls, in normouricosuric autistic patients, and cells from patients with other disorders in which excessive uric acid excretion is seen was also measured. These experiments showed that de novo purine synthesis is increased approx. 4-fold in the hyperuricosuric autistic patients. This increase was less than that found in other hyperuricosuric disorders. No unusual radiolabeled compounds (such as adenylosuccinate) were detected in these experiments, and no gross deficiencies of radiolabeled nucleotides were seen. However, the ratio of adenine to guanine nucleotides produced by de novo synthesis was found to be lower in the cells of the hyperuricosuric autistic patients than in the normal controls or the cells from patients with other disorders. These results indicate that the hyperuricosuric subclass of autistic patients have increased de novo purine synthesis, and that the increase is approximately that expected for the degree of urate overexcretion when compared to other hyperuricosuric disorders. No particular enzyme defect was suggested by either gross deficiency of a radiolabeled compound or the appearance of an unusual radiolabeled compound, and no potentially neurotoxic metabolites were seen. Although an enzyme defect responsible for the accelerated purine synthesis was not identified, the abnormal ratio of adenine to guanine nucleotides suggests a defect in purine nucleotide interconversion.

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