Phenylbutyrate improves nitrogen disposal via an alternative pathway without eliciting an increase in protein breakdown and catabolism in control and ornithine transcarbamylase-deficient patients

Juan C. Marini, Brendan C. Lanpher, Fernando Scaglia, William E. O'Brien, Qin Sun, Peter J. Garlick, Farook Jahoor, Brendan Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Phenylbutyrate is a drug used in patients with urea cycle disorder to elicit alternative pathways for nitrogen disposal. However, phenylbutyrate administration decreases plasma branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) concentrations, and previous research suggests that phenylbutyrate administration may increase leucine oxidation, which would indicate increased protein degradation and net protein loss. Objective: We investigated the effects of phenylbutyrate administration on whole-body protein metabolism, glutamine, leucine, and urea kinetics in healthy and ornithine transcarbamylase-deficient (OTCD) subjects and the possible benefits of BCAA supplementation during phenylbutyrate therapy. Design: Seven healthy control and 7 partial-OTCD subjects received either phenylbutyrate or no treatment in a crossover design. In addition, the partial-OTCD and 3 null-OTCD subjects received phenylbutyrate and phenylbutyrate plus BCAA supplementation. A multitracer protocol was used to determine the whole-body fluxes of urea and amino acids of interest. Results: Phenylbutyrate administration reduced ureagenesis by ≈15% without affecting the fluxes of leucine, tyrosine, phenylalanine, or glutamine and the oxidation of leucine or phenylalanine. The transfer of 15N from glutamine to urea was reduced by 35%. However, a reduction in plasma concentrations of BCAAs due to phenylbutyrate treatment was observed. BCAA supplementation did not alter the respective baseline fluxes. Conclusions: Prolonged phenylbutyrate administration reduced ureagenesis and the transfer of 15N from glutamine to urea without parallel reductions in glutamine flux and concentration. There were no changes in total-body protein breakdown and amino acid catabolism, which suggests that phenylbutyrate can be used to dispose of nitrogen effectively without adverse effects on body protein economy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1248-1254
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Volume93
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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