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Role of carglumic acid in the treatment of acute hyperammonemia due to N-acetylglutamate synthase deficiency.

N-acetylglutamate synthase (NAGS) deficiency is a rare inborn error of metabolism affecting ammonia detoxification in the urea cycle. The product of NAGS is N-acetylglutamate which is the absolutely required allosteric activator of the first urea cycle enzyme carbamoylphosphate synthetase 1. In defects of NAGS, the urea cycle function can be severely affected resulting in fatal hyperammonemia in neonatal patients or at any later stage in life. NAGS deficiency can be treated with a structural analog of N-acetylglutamate, N-carbamyl-L-glutamate, which is available for enteral use as a licensed drug. Since NAGS deficiency is an extremely rare disorder, reports on the use of N-carbamyl-L-glutamate are mainly based on single patients. According to these, the drug is very effective in treating acute hyperammonemia by avoiding the need for detoxification during the acute metabolic decompensation. Also during long-term treatment, N-carbamyl-L-glutamate is effective in maintaining normal plasma ammonia levels and avoiding the need for additional drug therapy or protein-restricted diet. Open questions remain which concern the optimal dosage in acute and long-term use of N-carbamyl-L-glutamate and potential additional disorders in which the drug might also be effective in treating acute hyperammonemia. This review focuses on the role of N-carbamyl-L-glutamate for the treatment of acute hyperammonemia due to primary NAGS deficiency but will briefly discuss the current knowledge on the role of N-carbamyl-L-glutamate for treatment of secondary NAGS deficiencies.

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