Journal articles

Propagation of plasma L-phenylalanine concentration fluctuations to the neurovascular unit in phenylketonuria: An in silico study

Phenylketonuria (PKU) is an inherited metabolic disease characterized by abnormally high concentrations of the essential amino acid L-phenylalanine (Phe) in blood plasma caused by reduced activity of phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH). While numerous studies have shown association between high plasma Phe concentration and intellectual impairment, it is not clear whether increased Phe fluctuations also observed in PKU affect the brain as well. To investigate this, time-resolved in vivo data on Phe and competing large neutral amino acid (LNAA) concentrations in neurons are needed, but cannot be acquired readily with current methods. We have used in silico modeling as an alternative approach to characterize the interactive dynamics of Phe and competing LNAAs (CL) in the neurovascular unit (NVU). Our results suggest that plasma Phe fluctuations can propagate into the NVU cells and change there the concentration of LNAAs, with the highest magnitude of this effect observed at low frequency and high amplitude-to-mean ratio of the plasma Phe concentration fluctuations. Our model further elucidates the effect of therapeutic LNAA supplementation in PKU, showing how abnormal concentrations of Phe and CL in the NVU move thereby toward normal physiologic levels.

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M. Taslimifar, S. Buoso, F. Verrey, V. Kurtcuoglu, Frontiers in Physiology, 10, 360 (2019). doi: 10.3389/fphys.2019.00360