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Mol Genet Metab. 1999 Jan;66(1):10-5.

Blood levels of ammonia and nitrogen scavenging amino acids in patients with inherited hyperammonemia.

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Department of Pediatrics and Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55455, USA.


Plasma levels of glutamine (456 determinations), alanine (434 determinations), and asparagine (431 determinations) and corresponding ammonia levels (260 determinations) were retrospectively analyzed in 30 patients with hyperammonemia secondary to urea cycle disorders (including 3 patients with amino acid transport defects) and 5 patients with propionic acidemia (PA). All patients had elevated glutamine levels on one or more testing except for 2 patients with severe PA and 1 patient with a mild urea cycle disorder. All but 4 patients with urea cycle disorders showed a maximal glutamine level higher than 100 micromol/dl, and 3 patients had a maximal glutamine level of higher than 200 micromol/dl. The only exceptions were 2 asymptomatic ornithine transcarbamylase (OTC)-deficient females, 1 male with mild OTC deficiency, and 1 patient with citrullinemia (CIT) whose plasma glutamine levels were never above 100 micromol/L. Patients with CIT and argininosuccinic aciduria (ASA) showed statistically significant lower levels of glutamine than patients with other urea cycle disorders. However, the maximal glutamine level did not directly correlate with severity of the disorder and within disorders correlated inversely with severity of outcome. Patients with PA showed statistically significant lower glutamine, alanine, and asparagine levels than patients with urea cycle disorders and the severity of this disorder correlated inversely with plasma glutamine levels. Plasma ammonia levels showed a positive correlation with glutamine in patients with carbamyl phosphate synthetase I and OTC deficiency and a negative correlation in patients with PA. Although, most patients also showed elevated levels of alanine and asparagine, their levels generally did not show a good correlation with glutamine (R2 = 0.25 and 0.34, respectively).

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