In vivo and in vitro response of human branched chain α-ketoacid dehydrogenase to thiamine and thiamine pyrophosphate

Dean J. Danner, Frances B. Wheeler, Sandra K. Lemmon, Louis J. Elsas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


In a homozygous affected patient with maple syrup urine disease, pharmacologic doses of thiamine lowered urinary excretion of branched chain α-ketoacids and stimulated branched chain α-ketoacid dehydrogenase (BCKAD) in his peripheral blood leukocytes. Supplementation of his branched chain aminoacid restricted diet with 100 mg/day of thiamine eliminated recurrent episodes of ketoacidosis. These clinical responses were studied in vitro using mitochondrial inner membranes prepared from his cultured skin fibroblasts and those from another thiamine-responsive patient from Canada. BCKAD in both mutant cell lines had similarities to normal enzyme including: identical apparent K(m) value for thiamine pyrophosphate; similar heat inactivation profiles which were slowed by the presence of thiamine pyrophosphate; and stimulation above basal activity by thiamine pyrophosphate. Differences in the enzymes included: decreased apparent V(max) for thiamine pyrophosphate; increased lability at 37°; and failure to respond to added NAD+, CoASH, and Mg2+. It was propose that 'excess' thiamine led to increased available thiamine pyrophosphate which stabilized the branched chain α-ketoacid dehydrogenase, decreased biologic turnover, increased enzyme specific activity and produced in vivo tolerance to branched chain aminoacids in these patients with maple syrup urine disease. Speculation: by studying the partially purified normal and mutant branched chain α-ketoacid dehydrogenases from cultured human fibroblasts, direct in vitro effects of thiamine pyrophophate can be measured and related to in vivo clinical responses. This should improve and extend the treatment and management of patients with maple syrup urine disease and provide a method for study of other mutant human enzymes located in the mitochondrial membrane.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-238
Number of pages4
JournalPediatric Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1978
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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