Send to

Choose Destination
Lancet. 2010 Oct 23;376(9750):1417-27. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(10)60961-0.


Author information

Division of Clinical Chemistry and Biochemistry, University Children's Hospital, Zurich, Switzerland.


Phenylketonuria is the most prevalent disorder caused by an inborn error in aminoacid metabolism. It results from mutations in the phenylalanine hydroxylase gene. Phenotypes can vary from a very mild increase in blood phenylalanine concentrations to a severe classic phenotype with pronounced hyperphenylalaninaemia, which, if untreated, results in profound and irreversible mental disability. Neonatal screening programmes identify individuals with phenylketonuria. The initiation of a phenylalanine-restricted diet very soon after birth prevents most of the neuropsychological complications. However, the diet is difficult to maintain and compliance is often poor, especially in adolescents, young adults, and pregnant women. Tetrahydrobiopterin stimulates phenylalanine hydroxylase activity in about 20% of patients, and in those patients serves as a useful adjunct to the phenylalanine-restricted diet because it increases phenylalanine tolerance and allows some dietary freedom. Possible future treatments include enzyme substitution with phenylalanine ammonia lyase, which degrades phenylalanine, and gene therapy to restore phenylalanine hydroxylase activity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center