Frequency and Pathophysiology of Acute Liver Failure in Ornithine Transcarbamylase Deficiency OTCDReportar como inadecuado

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Acute liver failure ALF has been reported in ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency OTCD and other urea cycle disorders UCD. The frequency of ALF in OTCD is not well-defined and the pathogenesis is not known.


To evaluate the prevalence of ALF in OTCD, we analyzed the Swiss patient cohort. Laboratory data from 37 individuals, 27 females and 10 males, diagnosed between 12-1991 and 03-2015, were reviewed for evidence of ALF. In parallel, we performed cell culture studies using human primary hepatocytes from a single patient treated with ammonium chloride in order to investigate the inhibitory potential of ammonia on hepatic protein synthesis.


More than 50% of Swiss patients with OTCD had liver involvement with ALF at least once in the course of disease. Elevated levels of ammonia often correlated with laboratory coagulopathy as reflected by increased values for international normalized ratio INR and low levels of hepatic coagulation factors which did not respond to vitamin K. In contrast, liver transaminases remained normal in several cases despite massive hyperammonemia and liver involvement as assessed by pathological INR values. In our in vitro studies, treatment of human primary hepatocytes with ammonium chloride for 48 hours resulted in a reduction of albumin synthesis and secretion by approximately 40%.


In conclusion, ALF is a common complication of OTCD, which may not always lead to severe symptoms and may therefore be underdiagnosed. Cell culture experiments suggest an ammonia-induced inhibition of hepatic protein synthesis, thus providing a possible pathophysiological explanation for hyperammonemia-associated ALF.

Autor: Alexander Laemmle , Renata C. Gallagher, Adrian Keogh, Tamar Stricker, Matthias Gautschi, Jean-Marc Nuoffer, Matthias R. Baumgart



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