Natural history of epilepsy in argininosuccinic aciduria provides new insights into pathophysiology: A retrospective international study.

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Olivieri, Giorgia 
Siri, Barbara 
Boyd, Stewart 
Stepien, Karolina M 

OBJECTIVE: Argininosuccinate lyase (ASL) is integral to the urea cycle, which enables nitrogen wasting and biosynthesis of arginine, a precursor of nitric oxide. Inherited ASL deficiency causes argininosuccinic aciduria, the second most common urea cycle defect and an inherited model of systemic nitric oxide deficiency. Patients present with developmental delay, epilepsy, and movement disorder. Here we aim to characterize epilepsy, a common and neurodebilitating comorbidity in argininosuccinic aciduria. METHODS: We conducted a retrospective study in seven tertiary metabolic centers in the UK, Italy, and Canada from 2020 to 2022, to assess the phenotype of epilepsy in argininosuccinic aciduria and correlate it with clinical, biochemical, radiological, and electroencephalographic data. RESULTS: Thirty-seven patients, 1-31 years of age, were included. Twenty-two patients (60%) presented with epilepsy. The median age at epilepsy onset was 24 months. Generalized tonic-clonic and focal seizures were most common in early-onset patients, whereas atypical absences were predominant in late-onset patients. Seventeen patients (77%) required antiseizure medications and six (27%) had pharmacoresistant epilepsy. Patients with epilepsy presented with a severe neurodebilitating disease with higher rates of speech delay (p = .04) and autism spectrum disorders (p = .01) and more frequent arginine supplementation (p = .01) compared to patients without epilepsy. Neonatal seizures were not associated with a higher risk of developing epilepsy. Biomarkers of ureagenesis did not differ between epileptic and non-epileptic patients. Epilepsy onset in early infancy (p = .05) and electroencephalographic background asymmetry (p = .0007) were significant predictors of partially controlled or refractory epilepsy. SIGNIFICANCE: Epilepsy in argininosuccinic aciduria is frequent, polymorphic, and associated with more frequent neurodevelopmental comorbidities. We identified prognostic factors for pharmacoresistance in epilepsy. This study does not support defective ureagenesis as prominent in the pathophysiology of epilepsy but suggests a role of central dopamine deficiency. A role of arginine in epileptogenesis was not supported and warrants further studies to assess the potential arginine neurotoxicity in argininosuccinic aciduria.


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

ammonia, arginine, argininosuccinate lyase, argininosuccinic aciduria, epilepsy, nitric oxide, urea cycle, Humans, Argininosuccinic Aciduria, Retrospective Studies, Nitric Oxide, Arginine, Epilepsy, Urea, Seizures
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United Kingdom Medical Research Council Clinician Scientist Fellowship (MR/T008024/1)