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Mol Genet Metab. 2011 Aug;103(4):323-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ymgme.2011.04.013. Epub 2011 May 5.

Ammonia control in children with urea cycle disorders (UCDs); phase 2 comparison of sodium phenylbutyrate and glycerol phenylbutyrate.

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  • 1Children's National Medical Center, Washington, DC, 20010, USA.


Twenty four hour ammonia profiles and correlates of drug effect were examined in a phase 2 comparison of sodium phenylbutyrate (NaPBA) and glycerol phenylbutyrate (GPB or HPN-100), an investigational drug being developed for urea cycle disorders (UCDs).


Protocol HPN-100-005 involved open label fixed-sequence switch-over from the prescribed NaPBA dose to a PBA-equimolar GPB dose with controlled diet. After 7 days on NaPBA or GPB, subjects underwent 24-hour blood sampling for ammonia and drug metabolite levels as well as measurement of 24-hour urinary phenyacetylglutamine (PAGN). Adverse events (AEs), safety labs and triplicate ECGs were monitored.


Eleven subjects (9 OTC, 1 ASS, 1 ASL) enrolled and completed the switch-over from NaPBA (mean dose=12.4 g/d or 322 mg/kg/d; range=198-476 mg/kg/d) to GPB (mean dose=10.8 mL or 0.284 mL/kg/d or 313 mg/kg/d; range=192-449 mg/kg/d). Possibly-related AEs were reported in 2 subjects on NaPBA and 4 subjects on GPB. All were mild, except for one moderate AE of vomiting on GPB related to an intercurrent illness. No clinically significant laboratory or ECG changes were observed. Ammonia was lowest after overnight fast, peaked postprandially in the afternoon to early evening and varied widely over 24h with occasional values >100 μmol/L without symptoms. Ammonia values were ~25% lower on GPB vs. NaPBA (p≥0.1 for ITT and p<0.05 for per protocol population). The upper 95% confidence interval for the difference between ammonia on GPB vs. NaPBA in the ITT population (95% CI 0.575, 1.061; p=0.102) was less than the predefined non-inferiority margin of 1.25 and less than 1.0 in the pre-defined per-protocol population (95% CI 0.516, 0.958; p<0.05). No statistically significant differences were observed in plasma phenylacetic acid and PAGN exposure during dosing with GPB vs. NaPBA, and the percentage of orally administered PBA excreted as PAGN (66% for GPB vs. 69% for NaPBA) was very similar. GPB and NaPBA dose correlated best with urinary-PAGN.


These findings suggest that GPB is at least equivalent to NaPBA in terms of ammonia control, has potential utility in pediatric UCD patients and that U-PAGN is a clinically useful biomarker for dose selection and monitoring.

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