Phenylketonuria (PKU) is a rare, treatable inborn error of metabolism with frequent neurological and neuropsychiatric complications, especially in undiagnosed or insufficiently treated individuals. Given the wide range of clinical presentations and the importance of treatment implications, we here delineate the neurological and neuropsychiatric symptom spectrum in a large cohort of previously unreported adults with late-treated PKU.
We consecutively evaluated late-treated PKU cases and pooled clinical and paraclinical data, including video-material, from three centers with expertise in complex movement disorders, inborn errors of metabolism and pediatrics.
26 individuals were included (10 females, median age 52 years). Developmental delay and intellectual disability were omnipresent with severe impairment of expressive communication noted in 50% of cases. Movement disorders were prevalent (77%), including tremor (38%, mostly postural), stereotypies (38%), and tics (19%). One case had neurodegenerative levodopa-responsive parkinsonism. Mild ataxia was noted in 54% of cases and 31% had a history of seizures. Neuropsychiatric characteristics included obsessive-compulsive (35%) and self-injurious behaviors (31%), anxiety (27%), depression (19%) and features compatible with those observed in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (19%). Neuroimaging revealed mild white matter changes. Adherence to dietary treatment was inconsistent in the majority of cases, particularly throughout adolescence.
A history of movement disorders, particularly tremor, stereotypies and tics, in the presence of developmental delay, intellectual disability and neuropsychiatric features, such as obsessive-compulsive and self-injurious behaviors in adults should prompt the diagnostic consideration of PKU. Initiation and adherence to (dietary) treatment can ameliorate the severity of these symptoms.

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