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J Neurol Sci. 1987 Jan;77(1):87-96.

Clinical and biochemical heterogeneity in conditions with phytanic acid accumulation.


Phytanic acid accumulation has for more than 20 years been used as a diagnostic criterion of Refsum's disease. Recently, however, phytanic acid has also been found in peroxisomal disorders (Zellweger's syndrome, neonatal adrenoleukodystrophy, infantile Refsum's syndrome, rhizomelic chondrodysplasia punctata). The 17 patients with Refsum's disease in the present study had serum phytanic acid values differing from 73 to less than 0.5 mg/dl (normal). alpha-Oxidation of phytanic acid in skin fibroblast cultures showed a defective capacity in all, with only small differences in residual activity. Phytanic acid determinations in serum from 3 of the 7 patients with peroxisomal disorders showed slightly elevated levels in 2. The alpha-oxidation capacity in the fibroblasts was defective in all, with a residual activity similar to that of Refsum's disease. An assay of the alpha-oxidation capacity may be useful in the diagnosis of both Refsum's disease and the peroxisomal disorders. The distinction between Refsum's disease and the peroxisomal disorders can easily be done on a clinical basis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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