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Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Nov;76(5):1061-8.

Indicators of marginal biotin deficiency and repletion in humans: validation of 3-hydroxyisovaleric acid excretion and a leucine challenge.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock 72205, USA.



The results of clinical studies have provided evidence that marginal biotin deficiency is more common than was previously thought. A previous study of 10 subjects showed that the urinary excretion of biotin and 3-hydroxyisovaleric acid (3HIA) are early and sensitive indicators of marginal biotin deficiency.


Marginal biotin deficiency was experimentally induced and corrected to assess the utility of 3 indicators of biotin status: urinary excretion of biotin and 3HIA and the increase in 3HIA excretion after leucine loading.


Eleven healthy adults consumed an egg white diet for 28 d. Blood and 24-h urine samples were collected before the start of the diet and twice weekly thereafter. In 5 subjects, an oral leucine challenge was performed weekly for 4 wk. After depletion, biotin status was restored with a general diet with or without a supplement containing 80 micro g biotin. Urinary excretion of biotin, bisnorbiotin, and biotin sulfoxides was determined by avidin-binding assay after HPLC. Excretion of 3HIA, an indicator of reduced activity of the biotin-dependent enzyme methylcrotonyl-CoA carboxylase (EC, was measured by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.


3HIA excretion increased significantly with time on the egg white diet (P < 0.0001), as did 3HIA excretion in response to the leucine challenge (P < 0.002); the excretion of both biotin and bisnorbiotin decreased significantly with time (P < 0.0001). In most subjects, biotin status returned to normal after 1 wk of a general diet.


Excretion of 3HIA and of biotin are early and sensitive indicators of biotin deficiency. 3HIA excretion after a leucine challenge is at least as sensitive.

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