Research Center for Children

Zürich, Switzerland

Research Center for Children

Zürich, Switzerland
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Cario H.,University of Ulm | Smith D.E.C.,VU University Amsterdam | Blom H.,VU University Amsterdam | Blau N.,University of Zürich | And 13 more authors.
American Journal of Human Genetics | Year: 2011

The importance of intracellular folate metabolism is illustrated by the severity of symptoms and complications caused by inborn disorders of folate metabolism or by folate deficiency. We examined three children of healthy, distantly related parents presenting with megaloblastic anemia and cerebral folate deficiency causing neurologic disease with atypical childhood absence epilepsy. Genome-wide homozygosity mapping revealed a candidate region on chromosome 5 including the dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) locus. DHFR sequencing revealed a homozygous DHFR mutation, c.458A>T (p.Asp153Val), in all siblings. The patients' folate profile in red blood cells (RBC), plasma, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), analyzed by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry, was compatible with DHFR deficiency. DHFR activity and fluorescein-labeled methotrexate (FMTX) binding were severely reduced in EBV-immortalized lymphoblastoid cells of all patients. Heterozygous cells displayed intermediate DHFR activity and FMTX binding. RT-PCR of DHFR mRNA revealed no differences between wild-type and DHFR mutation-carrying cells, whereas protein expression was reduced in cells with the DHFR mutation. Treatment with folinic acid resulted in the resolution of hematological abnormalities, normalization of CSF folate levels, and improvement of neurological symptoms. In conclusion, the homozygous DHFR mutation p.Asp153Val causes DHFR deficiency and leads to a complex hematological and neurological disease that can be successfully treated with folinic acid. DHFR is necessary for maintaining sufficient CSF and RBC folate levels, even in the presence of adequate nutritional folate supply and normal plasma folate. © 2011 The American Society of Human Genetics. All rights reserved.


Mangold S.,RWTH Aachen | Blau N.,University of Zürich | Blau N.,Zurich Center for Integrative Human Physiology | Blau N.,Research Center for Children | And 5 more authors.
Molecular Genetics and Metabolism | Year: 2011

Background: Cerebral folate deficiency (CFD) is increasingly recognized in various neurological conditions, raising the question of whether it might represent a clear-cut clinical syndrome. Methods: Retrospective analysis of patients with low cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5MTHF) values was performed. Results: 58 pediatric patients with low (-2nd to -3rd standard deviation) and 45 patients with very low 5MTHF values (< 3rd standard deviation) were identified, including 22 patients with defined underlying neurological conditions. The leading symptoms were mental retardation (n= 84), motor retardation (n= 75), epilepsy (n= 53), ataxia (n= 44) and pyramidal tract signs (n= 37). There was no relationship between 5MTHF levels and the severity of clinical disease, the duration of clinical disease, distinct neurological symptoms and antiepileptic drug treatment, respectively. Genetical analysis for mutations in the folate receptor 1 gene proved normal in all 16 children studied. Conclusions: For the majority of patients CFD is not a clear-cut neurometabolic syndrome but the common result of different genetic, metabolic or unknown processes. Nevertheless, CFD may represent a treatable disease-modifying factor which should therefore be addressed in prospective studies. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.


Heintz C.,University of Zürich | Troxler H.,University of Zürich | Martinez A.,University of Bergen | Thony B.,University of Zürich | And 6 more authors.
Molecular Genetics and Metabolism | Year: 2012

Background: Residual phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH) activity is the key determinant for the phenotype severity in phenylketonuria (PKU) patients and correlates with the patient's genotype. Activity of in vitro expressed mutant PAH may predict the patient's phenotype and response to tetrahydrobiopterin (BH 4), the cofactor of PAH. Methods: A robust LC-ESI-MSMS PAH assay for the quantification of phenylalanine and tyrosine was developed. We measured PAH activity a) of the PAH mutations p.Y417C, p.I65T, p.R261Q, p.E280A, p.R158Q, p.R408W, and p.E390G expressed in eukaryotic COS-1 cells; b) in different cell lines (e.g. Huh-7, Hep3B); and c) in liver, brain, and kidney tissue from wild-type and PKU mice. Results: The PAH assay was linear for phenylalanine and tyrosine (r 2≥0.99), with a detection limit of 105nmol/L for Phe and 398nmol/L for Tyr. Intra-assay and inter-assay coefficients of variation were <5.3% and <6.2%, respectively, for the p.R158Q variant in lower tyrosine range. Recovery of tyrosine was 100%. Compared to the wild-type enzyme, the highest PAH activity at standard conditions (1mmol/L L-Phe; 200μmol/L BH 4) was found for the mutant p.Y417C (76%), followed by p.E390G (54%), p.R261Q (43%), p.I65T (33%), p.E280A (15%), p.R158Q (5%), and p.R408W (2%). A relative high PAH activity was found in kidney (33% of the liver activity), but none in brain. Conclusions: This novel method is highly sensitive, specific, reproducible, and efficient, allowing the quantification of PAH activity in different cells or tissue extracts using minimum amounts of samples under standardized conditions. © 2012 Elsevier Inc..


Heintz C.,University of Zürich | Dobrowolski S.F.,University of Pittsburgh | Andersen H.S.,University of Southern Denmark | Demirkol M.,Istanbul University | And 5 more authors.
Molecular Genetics and Metabolism | Year: 2012

In about 20-30% of phenylketonuria (PKU) patients, phenylalanine (Phe) levels can be controlled by cofactor 6R-tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) administration. The phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH) genotype has a predictive value concerning BH4-response and therefore a correct assessment of the mutation molecular pathology is important. Mutations that disturb the splicing of exons (e.g. interplay between splice site strength and regulatory sequences like exon splicing enhancers (ESEs)/exon splicing silencers (ESSs)) may cause different severity of PKU. In this study, we identified PAH exon 11 as a vulnerable exon and used patient derived lymphoblast cell lines and PAH minigenes to study the molecular defect that impacted pre-mRNA processing. We showed that the c.1144T>C and c.1066-3C>T mutations cause exon 11 skipping, while the c.1139C>T mutation is neutral or slightly beneficial. The c.1144T>C mutation resides in a putative splicing enhancer motif and binding by splicing factors SF2/ASF, SRp20 and SRp40 is disturbed. Additional mutations in potential splicing factor binding sites contributed to elucidate the pathogenesis of mutations in PAH exon 11.We suggest that . PAH exon 11 is vulnerable due to a weak 3' splice site and that this makes exon 11 inclusion dependent on an ESE spanning position c.1144. Importantly, this implies that other mutations in exon 11 may affect splicing, since splicing is often determined by a fine balance between several positive and negative splicing regulatory elements distributed throughout the exon. Finally, we identified a pseudoexon in intron 11, which would have pathogenic consequences if activated by mutations or improved splicing conditions.Exonic mutations that disrupt splicing are unlikely to facilitate response to BH4 and may lead to inconsistent genotype-phenotype correlations. Therefore, recognizing such mutations enhances our ability to predict the BH4-response. © 2012 Elsevier Inc..


Opladen T.,University of Heidelberg | Abu Seda B.,University of Zürich | Rassi A.,University of Zürich | Thony B.,University of Zürich | And 6 more authors.
Journal of Inherited Metabolic Disease | Year: 2011

In every newborn with even mild hyperphenylalaninemia (HPA) tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) deficiencies need to be excluded as soon as possible. Differential diagnosis is most commonly performed by analysis of urinary neopterin and biopterin. In 2005 a new method for the measurement of neopterin, biopterin and other pterins in dried blood spot (DBS) on filter paper was introduced. In order to evaluate the usefulness of this method as a standard tool for differential diagnosis of HPAs we analyzed neopterin, biopterin, pterin and dihydropteridine reductase activity in DBS from 362 patients with HPA over the period of five years. Age-dependent reference values were established for the HPA population. Sixty-four patients with BH4 deficiency (27 patients with 6-pyruvoyl-tetrahydropterin synthase deficiency, seven with GTP cyclohydrolase I deficiency, and 30 with dihydropteridine reductase) were identified. Reference values for neopterin and biopterin in DBS were calculated for each of the variants. 6-pyruvoyl-tetrahydropterin synthase and GTP cyclohydrolase I deficiency can be diagnosed by neopterin and biopterin analysis alone, while for diagnosis of dihydropteridine reductase deficiency additional determination of enzyme activity from the same DBS is essential. Regarding test sensitivity, the interpretation of neopterin and biopterin concentration per hemoglobin is more valid than the interpretation of neopterin and biopterin per liter. Percentage of biopterin, of the sum of neopterin and biopterin should always be calculated. In addition, determination of hemoglobin concentration is essential as a measure for efficient extraction of neopterin and biopterin. Although the measurement of neopterin and biopterin in urine is more sensitive due to the higher concentrations present, our data prove the usefulness of their measurement from DBS for the routine diagnosis of BH 4 deficiencies. © 2011 SSIEM and Springer.


Blau N.,University of Zürich | Blau N.,Zurich Center for Integrative Human Physiology | Blau N.,Research Center for Children | Hennermann J.B.,Charité - Medical University of Berlin | And 2 more authors.
Molecular Genetics and Metabolism | Year: 2011

This article summarizes the present knowledge, recent developments, and common pitfalls in the diagnosis, classification, and genetics of hyperphenylalaninemia, including tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) deficiency. It is a product of the recent workshop organized by the European Phenylketonuria Group in March 2011 in Lisbon, Portugal. Results of the workshop demonstrate that following newborn screening for phenylketonuria (PKU), using tandem mass-spectrometry, every newborn with even slightly elevated blood phenylalanine (Phe) levels needs to be screened for BH4 deficiency. Dried blood spots are the best sample for the simultaneous measurement of amino acids (phenylalanine and tyrosine), pterins (neopterin and biopterin), and dihydropteridine reductase activity from a single specimen. Following diagnosis, the patient's phenotype and individually tailored treatment should be established as soon as possible. Not only blood Phe levels, but also daily tolerance for dietary Phe and potential responsiveness to BH4 are part of the investigations. Efficiency testing with synthetic BH4 (sapropterin dihydrochloride) over several weeks should follow the initial 24-48-hour screening test with 20. mg/kg/day BH4. The specific genotype, i.e. the combination of both PAH alleles of the patient, helps or facilitates to determine both the biochemical phenotype (severity of PKU) and the responsiveness to BH4. The rate of Phe metabolic disposal after Phe challenge may be an additional useful tool in the interpretation of phenotype-genotype correlation. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.


Dill P.,University of Basel | Schneider J.,University of Basel | Weber P.,University of Basel | Trachsel D.,University of Basel | And 8 more authors.
Molecular Genetics and Metabolism | Year: 2011

We present an 8-year-old boy with folate receptor alpha (FRα) defect and congenital deafness with labyrinthine aplasia, microtia and microdontia (LAMM syndrome). Both conditions are exceptionally rare autosomal recessive inherited diseases mapped to 11q13. Our patient was found to have novel homozygous nonsense mutations in the FOLR1 gene (p.R204X), and FGF3 gene (p.C50X). While the FRα defect is a disorder of brain-specific folate transport accompanied with cerebral folate deficiency (CFD) causing progressive neurological symptoms, LAMM syndrome is a solely malformative condition, with normal physical growth and cognitive development. Our patient presented with congenital deafness, hypotonia, dysphygia and ataxia in early childhood. At the age of 6. years he developed intractable epilepsy, and deteriorated clinically with respiratory arrest and severe hypercapnea at the age of 8. years. In contrast to the previously published patients with a FOLR1 gene defect, our patient presented with an abnormal l-dopa metabolism in CSF and high 3-O-methyl-dopa. Upon oral treatment with folinic acid the boy regained consciousness while the epilepsy could be successfully managed only with additional pyridoxal 5'-phosphate (PLP).This report pinpoints the importance of CSF folate investigations in children with unexplained progressive neurological presentations, even if a malformative syndrome is obviously present, and suggests a trial with PLP in folinic acid-unresponsive seizures. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.


Werner E.R.,Innsbruck Medical University | Blau N.,University of Zürich | Blau N.,Zurich Center for Integrative Human Physiology | Blau N.,Research Center for Children | And 3 more authors.
Biochemical Journal | Year: 2011

BH 4 (6R-L-erythro-5,6,7,8-tetrahydrobiopterin) is an essential cofactor of a set of enzymes that are of central metabolic importance, including four aromatic amino acid hydroxylases, alkylglycerol mono-oxygenase and three NOS (NO synthase) isoenzymes. Consequently, BH 4 is present in probably every cell or tissue of higher organisms and plays a key role in a number of biological processes and pathological states associated with monoamine neurotransmitter formation, cardiovascular and endothelial dysfunction, the immune response and pain sensitivity. BH 4 is formed de novo from GTP via a sequence of three enzymatic steps carried out by GTP cyclohydrolase I, 6-pyruvoyltetrahydropterin synthase and sepiapterin reductase. An alternative or salvage pathway involves dihydrofolate reductase and may play an essential role in peripheral tissues. Cofactor regeneration requires pterin-4a-carbinolamine dehydratase and dihydropteridine reductase, except for NOSs, in which the BH 4 cofactor undergoes a one-electron redox cycle without the need for additional regeneration enzymes. With regard to the regulation of cofactor biosynthesis, the major controlling point is GTP cyclohydrolase I. BH 4 biosynthesis is controlled in mammals by hormones and cytokines. BH 4 deficiency due to autosomal recessive mutations in all enzymes, except for sepiapterin reductase, has been described as a cause of hyperphenylalaninaemia. A major contributor to vascular dysfunction associated with hypertension, ischaemic reperfusion injury, diabetes and others, appears to be an effect of oxidized BH 4, which leads to an increased formation of oxygen-derived radicals instead of NO by decoupled NOS. Furthermore, several neurological diseases have been suggested to be a consequence of restricted cofactor availability, and oral cofactor replacement therapy to stabilizemutant phenylalanine hydroxylase in the BH 4-responsive type of hyperphenylalaninaemia has an advantageous effect on pathological phenylalanine levels in patients. ©The Authors Journal compilation © 2011 Biochemical Society.

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