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Disorders of peroxisomal metabolism in adults 

Disorders of peroxisomal metabolism in adults
Disorders of peroxisomal metabolism in adults

Anthony S. Wierzbicki

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date: 25 February 2021

The peroxisome is a specialized organelle which employs molecular oxygen in the oxidation of complex organic molecules including lipids. Enzymatic pathways for the metabolism of fatty acids, including very long-chain fatty acids (VLCFAs), enable this organelle to carry out β‎-oxidation in partnership with mitochondria. A peroxisomal pathway for isoprenoid lipids derived from chlorophyll, such as phytanic acid, utilizes α‎-oxidation, but a default mechanism involving ω‎-oxidation may also metabolize phytanic acid and its derivatives. The biochemical manifestations, molecular pathology, and diverse clinical features of many peroxisomal disorders have now been clarified, offering the promise of prompt diagnosis, better management, and useful means to provide appropriate genetic counselling for affected families. At the same time, specific treatments including rigorous dietary interventions and plasmapheresis to remove undegraded toxic metabolites offer credible hope of improvement and prevention of disease in affected individuals. X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD)—due to mutations in the gene for an ATP-binding cassette (ABC) protein of unknown function and characterized by accumulation of unbranched saturated VLCFAs, particularly hexacosanoate (C26), in the cholesterol esters of brain white matter, adrenal cortex, and certain sphingolipids of the brain. The disease has multiple phenotypes. Most cases develop increasing handicap; management is palliative and supportive in most instances. Adult Refsum’s disease—due in most cases to mutations in the gene for phytanoyl-CoA hydroxylase (PHYH) such that patients are unable to detoxify phytanic acid by α‎-oxidation and have greatly elevated levels of this in their plasma. Usually presents in late childhood with progressive deterioration of night vision, the occurrence of progressive retinitis pigmentosa, and anosmia. Treatment is by restriction of dietary phytanic acid, with or without its elimination by plasmapheresis or apheresis.

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