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May 1990

Valine, Isoleucine, and Leucine: A New Treatment for Phenylketonuria

Author Affiliations

From the Metabolic Disease Center, Children's Hospital Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati (Ohio) College of Medicine.

Am J Dis Child. 1990;144(5):539-543. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1990.02150290033020

• Early treatment of phenylketonuria by dietary phenylalanine restriction prevents brain damage. Behavioral and cognitive deficits occur when serum phenylalanine levels increase. Administration of valine, isoleucine, and leucine to patients with phenylketonuria may inhibit entry of phenylalanine into the brain and reduce its toxic effects on the central nervous system. Sixteen adolescents and young adults with phenylketonuria participated in double-blind trials in which a valine, isoleucine, and leucine mixture or a control mixture was given for four 3-month periods. Biochemical and neuropsychologic tests were carried out before and at the end of each period. Time to completion of a test that required substantial attention with mental processing (Attention Diagnostic Method) was faster during the valine, isoleucine, and leucine periods than during the control mixture periods. Improvement with valine, isoleucine, and leucine on a less demanding task (Continuous Performance Test) approached significance. These data lent support to the hypothesis that a regimen of valine, isoleucine, and leucine may help individuals unable to maintain low serum phenylalanine levels.

(AJDC. 1990;144:539-543)