Disorders of tetrahydrobiopterin metabolism represent a rare group of inherited neurotransmitter disorders that manifests mainly in infancy or childhood with developmental delay, neuroregression, epilepsy, movement disorders, and autonomic symptoms.
A retrospective review of genetically confirmed cases of disorders of tetrahydrobiopterin metabolism over a period of three years (Jan 2018 to Jan 2021) was performed across two paediatric neurology centres from South India.
A total of nine patients(M:F=4:5) fulfilled the eligibility criteria. The genetic variants detected include homozygous mutations in the QDPR(n=6), GCH1(n=2), and PTS(n=1) genes. The median age at onset of symptoms was 6-months(range 3-78 months), while that at diagnosis was 15-months (8-120 months), resulting in a median delay in diagnosis of 9-months. The main clinical manifestations included neuroregression (89%), developmental delay(78%), dystonia(78%) and seizures(55%). Management strategies included a phenylalanine restricted diet, levodopa/carbidopa, 5-Hydroxytryphtophan, and folinic acid. Only, Patient-2 afforded and received BH4 supplementation at a sub-optimal dose later in the disease course. We had a median duration of follow up of 15 months (range 2-48 months). Though the biochemical response has been marked; except for patients with GTPCH deficiency, only mild clinical improvement was noted with regards to developmental milestones, seizures, or dystonia in others.
Tetrahydrobiopterin deficiencies represent a rare yet potentially treatable cause for non-phenylketonuria hyperphenylalaninemia with better outcomes when treated early in life. Screening for disorders of biopterin metabolism in patients with hyperphenylalaninemia prevents delayed diagnosis. This study expands the genotype-phenotype spectrum of patients with disorders of tetrahydrobiopterin metabolism from South India.

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