GAA in urea cycle disorders
The urea cycle generates arginine that is one of the major precursors for creatine biosynthesis. Here we evaluate levels of creatine and guanidinoacetate (the precursor in the synthesis of creatine) in plasma samples (ns = 207) of patients (np = 73) with different types of urea cycle disorders (ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency (ns = 22; np = 7), citrullinemia type 1 (ns = 60; np = 22), argininosuccinic aciduria (ns = 81; np = 31), arginase deficiency (ns = 44; np = 13)). The concentration of plasma guanidinoacetate positively correlated (p < 0.001, R2 = 0.64) with levels of arginine, but not with glycine in all patients with urea cycle defects, rising to levels above normal in most samples (34 out of 44) of patients with arginase deficiency. In contrast to patients with guanidinoacetate methyltransferase deficiency (a disorder of creatine synthesis characterized by elevated guanidinoacetate concentrations), creatine levels were normal (32 out of 44) or above normal (12 out of 44) in samples from patients with arginase deficiency. Creatine levels correlated significantly, but poorly (p < 0.01, R2 = 0.1) with guanidinoacetate levels and, despite being overall in the normal range in patients with all other urea cycle disorders, were occasionally below normal in some patients with argininosuccinic acid synthase and lyase deficiency. Creatine levels positively correlated with levels of methionine (p < 0.001, R2 = 0.16), the donor of the methyl group for creatine synthesis. The direct correlation of arginine levels with guanidinoacetate in patients with urea cycle disorders explains the increased concentration of guanidino compounds in arginase deficiency. Low creatine levels in some patients with other urea cycle defects might be explained by low protein intake (creatine is naturally present in meat) and relative or absolute intracellular arginine deficiency.
Ingoglia F, Chong JL, Pasquali M, Longo N. Creatine metabolism in patients with urea cycle disorders. Mol Genet Metab Rep. 2021 Aug 23;29:100791.