Journal Article
Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
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Epilepsy in phenylketonuria: a complex dependence on serum phenylalanine levels.

Epilepsia 2007 June
PURPOSE: Phenylketonuria (PKU) is a disorder of phenylalanine (Phe) metabolism that frequently results in epilepsy if a low Phe diet was not implemented at birth. The mechanisms by which Phe affects the brain are poorly understood.

METHODS: Audiogenic seizures (AGS) were studied in female homozygous Pah(enu2) BTBR (PKU) mice.

RESULTS: Adult PKU mice, 18-20 weeks of age, in contrast to wild-type and heterozygous counterparts, exhibited a full range of AGS. Younger PKU mice, 5-7 weeks of age, had higher serum Phe levels (2.22 +/- 0.20 mM) in comparison with the adult animals (1.72 +/- 0.05 mM) and were not susceptible to AGS. Among adult mice, animals susceptible to AGS had significantly lower serum Phe levels (1.62 +/- 0.06 mM) in comparison with those resistant to AGS (1.86 +/- 0.07 mM). Susceptibility to AGS tended to increase in the afternoon when serum Phe concentration decreased in comparison to evening and morning. Normalization of serum Phe level by instituting a low Phe diet generally prevented susceptibility to AGS within 12 h. Although return to a standard diet raised Phe levels to hyperphenylalaninemic within 12 h in animals treated with a low Phe diet for 2 weeks, more than 7 weeks were needed for a complete resumption of AGS.

CONCLUSIONS: Transient decrease in Phe levels within hyperphenylalaninemic range may be a necessary condition for PKU-related seizures to occur. A low Phe diet prevents susceptibility to seizures, which can resume with the significant delay after termination of dietary treatment.

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