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PLoS One. 2013 Jun 26;8(6):e67473. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0067473. Print 2013.

Cerebral Developmental Abnormalities in a Mouse with Systemic Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Deficiency.

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Department of Biochemistry, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, Buffalo, New York, United States of America.


Pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) complex (PDC) deficiency is an inborn error of pyruvate metabolism causing a variety of neurologic manifestations. Systematic analyses of development of affected brain structures and the cellular processes responsible for their impairment have not been performed due to the lack of an animal model for PDC deficiency.


In the present study we investigated a murine model of systemic PDC deficiency by interrupting the X-linked Pdha1 gene encoding the α subunit of PDH to study its role on brain development and behavioral studies.


Male embryos died prenatally but heterozygous females were born. PDC activity was reduced in the brain and other tissues in female progeny compared to age-matched control females. Immunohistochemical analysis of several brain regions showed that approximately 40% of cells were PDH(-). The oxidation of glucose to CO2 and incorporation of glucose-carbon into fatty acids were reduced in brain slices from 15 day-old PDC-deficient females. Histological analyses showed alterations in several structures in white and gray matters in 35 day-old PDC-deficient females. Reduction in total cell number and reduced dendritic arbors in Purkinje neurons were observed in PDC-deficient females. Furthermore, cell proliferation, migration and differentiation into neurons by newly generated cells were reduced in the affected females during pre- and postnatal periods. PDC-deficient mice had normal locomotor activity in a novel environment but displayed decreased startle responses to loud noises and there was evidence of abnormal pre-pulse inhibition of the startle reflex.


The results show that a reduction in glucose metabolism resulting in deficit in energy production and fatty acid biosynthesis impairs cellular differentiation and brain development in PDC-deficient mice.

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