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Ng J.,University College London | Heales S.J.R.,Clinical Chemistry | Heales S.J.R.,Neurometabolic Unit | Kurian M.A.,University College London
Pediatric Drugs | Year: 2014

Childhood neurotransmitter disorders are increasingly recognised as an expanding group of inherited neurometabolic syndromes. They are caused by disturbance in synthesis, metabolism, and homeostasis of the monoamine neurotransmitters, including the catecholamines (dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine) and serotonin. Disturbances in monoamine neurotransmission will lead to neurological symptoms that often overlap with clinical features of other childhood neurological disorders (such as hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy, cerebral palsy, other movement disorders, and paroxysmal conditions); consequently, neurotransmitter disorders are frequently misdiagnosed. The diagnosis of neurotransmitter disorders is made through detailed clinical assessment, analysis of cerebrospinal fluid neurotransmitters, and further supportive diagnostic investigations. Early and accurate diagnosis of neurotransmitter disorders is important, as many are amenable to therapeutic intervention. The principles of treatment for monoamine neurotransmitter disorders are mainly directly derived from understanding these metabolic pathways. In disorders characterized by enzyme deficiency, we aim to increase monoamine substrate availability, boost enzyme co-factor levels, reduce monoamine breakdown, and replace depleted levels of monoamines with pharmacological analogs as clinically indicated. Most monoamine neurotransmitter disorders lead to reduced levels of central dopamine and/or serotonin. Complete amelioration of motor symptoms is achievable in some disorders, such as Segawa's syndrome, and, in other conditions, significant improvement in quality of life can be attained with pharmacotherapy. In this review, we provide an overview of the clinical features and current treatment strategies for childhood monoamine neurotransmitter disorders. © 2014 The Author(s).

Pitceathly R.D.S.,University College London | Rahman S.,University College London | Wedatilake Y.,University College London | Polke J.M.,Neurogenetics Unit | And 12 more authors.
Cell Reports | Year: 2013

The molecular basis of cytochrome c oxidase (COX, complex IV) deficiency remains genetically undetermined in many cases. Homozygosity mapping and whole-exome sequencing were performed in a consanguineous pedigree with isolated COX deficiency linked toa Leigh syndrome neurological phenotype. Unexpectedly, affected individuals harbored homozygous splice donor site mutations in NDUFA4, a gene previously assigned to encode a mitochondrial respiratory chain complex I (NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase) subunit. Western blot analysis of denaturing gels and immunocytochemistry revealed undetectable steady-state NDUFA4 protein levels, indicating that the mutation causes a loss-of-function effect in the homozygous state. Analysis of one- and two-dimensional blue-native polyacrylamide gels confirmed an interaction between NDUFA4 and the COX enzyme complex in control muscle, whereas the COX enzyme complex without NDUFA4 was detectable with no abnormal subassemblies in patient muscle. These observations support recent work in cell lines suggesting that NDUFA4 is an additional COX subunit and demonstrate that NDUFA4 mutations cause human disease. Our findings support reassignment of the NDUFA4 protein to complex IV and suggest that patients with unexplained COX deficiency should be screened for NDUFA4 mutations. © 2013 The Authors.

Kurian M.A.,University College London | Gissen P.,University College London | Smith M.,Birmingham Childrens Hospital | Heales S.J.R.,Great Ormond Street Hospital | And 2 more authors.
The Lancet Neurology | Year: 2011

The monoamine neurotransmitter disorders consist of a rapidly expanding heterogeneous group of neurological syndromes characterised by primary and secondary defects in the biosynthesis degradation, or transport of dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine, and serotonin. Disease onset can occur any time from infancy onwards. Clinical presentation depends on the pattern and severity of neurotransmitter abnormalities, and is predominated by neurological features (encephalopathy, epilepsy, and pyramidal and extrapyramidal motor disorders) that are primarily attributed to deficiency of cerebral dopamine, serotonin, or both. Many neurotransmitter disorders mimic the phenotype of other neurological disorders (eg, cerebral palsy, hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy, paroxysmal disorders, inherited metabolic diseases, and genetic dystonic or parkinsonian syndromes) and are, therefore, frequently misdiagnosed. Early clinical suspicion and appropriate investigations, including analysis of neurotransmitters in CSF, are essential for accurate clinical diagnosis. Treatment strategies focus on the correction of monoamine deficiency by replacement of monoamine precursors, the use of monoamine analogues, inhibition of monoamine degradation, and addition of enzyme cofactors to promote monoamine production. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

Hargreaves I.P.,Neurometabolic Unit
International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology | Year: 2014

Treatment of mitochondrial respiratory chain (MRC) disorders is extremely difficult, however, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and its synthetic analogues are the only agents which have shown some therapeutic benefit to patients. CoQ10 serves as an electron carrier in the MRC as well as functioning as a potent lipid soluble antioxidant. CoQ10 supplementation is fundamental to the treatment of patients with primary defects in the CoQ10 biosynthetic pathway. The efficacy of CoQ10 and its analogues in the treatment of patients with MRC disorders not associated with a CoQ10 deficiency indicates their ability to restore electron flow in the MRC and/or increase mitochondrial antioxidant capacity may also be important contributory factors to their therapeutic potential. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

Kanabus M.,University College London | Heales S.J.,University College London | Heales S.J.,Neurometabolic Unit | Rahman S.,University College London | Rahman S.,Metabolic Unit
British Journal of Pharmacology | Year: 2014

Mitochondrial diseases are an unusually genetically and phenotypically heterogeneous group of disorders, which are extremely challenging to treat. Currently, apart from supportive therapy, there are no effective treatments for the vast majority of mitochondrial diseases. Huge scientific effort, however, is being put into understanding the mechanisms underlying mitochondrial disease pathology and developing potential treatments. To date, a variety of treatments have been evaluated by randomized clinical trials, but unfortunately, none of these has delivered breakthrough results. Increased understanding of mitochondrial pathways and the development of many animal models, some of which are accurate phenocopies of human diseases, are facilitating the discovery and evaluation of novel prospective treatments. Targeting reactive oxygen species has been a treatment of interest for many years; however, only in recent years has it been possible to direct antioxidant delivery specifically into the mitochondria. Increasing mitochondrial biogenesis, whether by pharmacological approaches, dietary manipulation or exercise therapy, is also currently an active area of research. Modulating mitochondrial dynamics and mitophagy and the mitochondrial membrane lipid milieu have also emerged as possible treatment strategies. Recent technological advances in gene therapy, including allotopic and transkingdom gene expression and mitochondrially targeted transcription activator-like nucleases, have led to promising results in cell and animal models of mitochondrial diseases, but most of these techniques are still far from clinical application. © 2013 The Authors. British Journal of Pharmacology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of The British Pharmacological Society.

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