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Optimized loading test to evaluate responsiveness to tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) in Brazilian patients with phenylalanine hydroxylase deficiency.

INTRODUCTION: Recent studies showed that phenylalanine (Phe) plasma concentrations may decrease in some patients with hyperphenylalaninemia (HPA) due to phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH) deficiency, after the administration of tetrahydrobiopterin (BH(4)).

OBJECTIVE: To determine responsiveness to a single dose of BH(4) administered according to an innovative protocol using a combined Phe and BH(4) loading test in Brazilian phenylketonuria (PKU) patients.

METHODS: Patient age should be ≥ 4 years, and median Phe plasma concentration ≤ 600 μmol/L when following dietary restrictions. Participants received a simple Phe loading test using 100mg/kg L-Phe (Test 1) and a combined Phe+BH(4) loading test using 100mg/kg L-Phe and 20mg/kg/BH(4) (Test 2). Blood samples were collected at baseline and 3, 11 and 27 h after Phe ingestion (T0, T1, T2 and T3). Responsiveness was defined as: criterion A: plasma Phe reduction of ≥ 30% at T1 and T2 for Tests 1 and 2; criterion B: plasma Phe reduction of ≥ 30% at T1 and T3 for Tests 1 and 2; and criterion C: at least 30% difference of the areas under the Phe curve for Tests 1 and 2.

RESULTS: Eighteen patients (median age 12 yrs; 8 classical PKU; 10 mild PKU) participated in the study. Six patients (2 classical PKU; 4 mild PKU) were classified as responsive according to at least one of the criteria. Responsiveness was concordant when criteria A + B we compared with criterion C (kappa = 0.557; p = 0.017). Of the patients whose genotype was available (n = 16), six had data about BH(4)-responsiveness genotypes described in the literature, which were in agreement with our findings.

CONCLUSION: The comparison of simple Phe loading and combined Phe + BH(4) loading seems to be an optimal method to evaluate responsiveness to BH(4) in patients with good metabolic control.

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