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The incidence of movement disorder increases with age and contrasts with subtle and limited neuroimaging abnormalities in argininosuccinic aciduria.

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Gurung, Sonam 
Karamched, Saketh 
Perocheau, Dany 
Seunarine, Kiran K 
Baldwin, Tom 


Argininosuccinate lyase (ASL) is integral to the urea cycle detoxifying neurotoxic ammonia and the nitric oxide (NO) biosynthesis cycle. Inherited ASL deficiency causes argininosuccinic aciduria (ASA), a rare disease with hyperammonemia and NO deficiency. Patients present with developmental delay, epilepsy and movement disorder, associated with NO-mediated downregulation of central catecholamine biosynthesis. A neurodegenerative phenotype has been proposed in ASA. To better characterise this neurodegenerative phenotype in ASA, we conducted a retrospective study in six paediatric and adult metabolic centres in the UK in 2022. We identified 60 patients and specifically looked for neurodegeneration-related symptoms: movement disorder such as ataxia, tremor and dystonia, hypotonia/fatigue and abnormal behaviour. We analysed neuroimaging with diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in an individual with ASA with movement disorders. We assessed conventional and DTI MRI alongside single photon emission computer tomography (SPECT) with dopamine analogue radionuclide 123 I-ioflupane, in Asl-deficient mice treated by hASL mRNA with normalised ureagenesis. Movement disorders in ASA appear in the second and third decades of life, becoming more prevalent with ageing and independent from the age of onset of hyperammonemia. Neuroimaging can show abnormal DTI features affecting both grey and white matter, preferentially basal ganglia. ASA mouse model with normalised ureagenesis did not recapitulate these DTI findings and showed normal 123 I-ioflupane SPECT and cerebral dopamine metabolomics. Altogether these findings support the pathophysiology of a late-onset movement disorder with cell-autonomous functional central catecholamine dysregulation but without or limited neurodegeneration of dopaminergic neurons, making these symptoms amenable to targeted therapy.


Publication status: Published

Funder: NIHR Great Ormond Street Hospital Biomedical Research Centre; doi:

Funder: Moderna Therapeutics; doi:


123I-ioflupane, ammonia, argininosuccinate lyase, argininosuccinic aciduria, dopamine, movement disorder, nitric oxide, positron emission tomography, urea cycle

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J Inherit Metab Dis

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United Kingdom Medical Research Council Clinician Scientist Fellowship (MR/T008024/1)