Intracerebral accumulation of glutaric and 3-hydroxyglutaric acids secondary to limited flux across the blood–brain barrier constitute a biochemical risk factor for neurodegeneration in glutaryl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency

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Abstract

Glutaric acid (GA) and 3-hydroxyglutaric acids (3-OH-GA) are key metabolites in glutaryl co-enzyme A dehydrogenase (GCDH) deficiency and are both considered to be potential neurotoxins. As cerebral concentrations of GA and 3-OH-GA have not yet been studied systematically, we investigated the tissue-specific distribution of these organic acids and glutarylcarnitine in brain, liver, skeletal and heart muscle of Gcdh-deficient mice as well as in hepatic Gcdh–/– mice and in C57Bl/6 mice following intraperitoneal loading. Furthermore, we determined the flux of GA and 3-OH-GA across the blood–brain barrier (BBB) using porcine brain microvessel endothelial cells. Concentrations of GA, 3-OH-GA and glutarylcarnitine were significantly elevated in all tissues of Gcdh–/– mice. Strikingly, cerebral concentrations of GA and 3-OH-GA were unexpectedly high, reaching similar concentrations as those found in liver. In contrast, cerebral concentrations of these organic acids remained low in hepatic Gcdh–/– mice and after intraperitoneal injection of GA and 3-OH-GA. These results suggest limited flux of GA and 3-OH-GA across the BBB, which was supported in cultured porcine brain capillary endothelial cells. In conclusion, we propose that an intracerebral de novo synthesis and subsequent trapping of GA and 3-OH-GA should be considered as a biochemical risk factor for neurodegeneration in GCDH deficiency.

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