Phenylketonuria (PKU) Urinary Metabolomic Phenotype Is Defined by Genotype and Metabolite Imbalance: Results in 51 Early Treated Patients Using Ex Vivo 1H-NMR Analysis

June 22, 2023

Claire Cannet 1Allan Bayat 2Georg Frauendienst-Egger 3Peter Freisinger 3Manfred Spraul 1Nastassja Himmelreich 4Musa Kockaya 5Kirsten Ahring 2Markus Godejohann 1Anita MacDonald 6Friedrich Trefz 7


Phenylketonuria (PKU) is a rare metabolic disorder caused by mutations in the phenylalanine hydroxylase gene. Depending on the severity of the genetic mutation, medical treatment, and patient dietary management, elevated phenylalanine (Phe) may occur in blood and brain tissues. Research has recently shown that high Phe not only impacts the central nervous system, but also other organ systems (e.g., heart and microbiome). This study used ex vivo proton nuclear magnetic resonance (1H-NMR) analysis of urine samples from PKU patients (mean 14.9 ± 9.2 years, n = 51) to identify the impact of elevated blood Phe and PKU treatment on metabolic profiles. Our results found that 24 out of 98 urinary metabolites showed a significant difference (p < 0.05) for PKU patients compared to age-matched healthy controls (n = 51) based on an analysis of urinary metabolome. These altered urinary metabolites were related to Phe metabolism, dysbiosis, creatine synthesis or intake, the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, end products of nicotinamide-adenine dinucleotide degradation, and metabolites associated with a low Phe diet. There was an excellent correlation between the metabolome and genotype of PKU patients and healthy controls of 96.7% in a confusion matrix model. Metabolomic investigations may contribute to a better understanding of PKU pathophysiology.

Keywords: Ex Vivo 1H-NMR analysis spectroscopy; genotype; metabolomics; pathogenesis; phenylketonuria.