Creatine Deficiency in the Brain: A New, Treatable Inborn Error of Metabolism


ABSTRACT: In a patient with extrapyramidal movement disorder and extremely low creatinine concentrations in serum and urine, in vivo proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy disclosed a generalized depletion of creatine in the brain. Oral substitution of arginine, a substrate for creatine synthesis, resulted in an increase of brain guanidinoacetate as the immediate precursor of creatine but did not elevate cerebral creatine levels. In contrast, oral substitution of creatine-monohydrate led to a significant increase of brain creatine, a decrease of brain guanidinoacetate, and a nor-malization of creatinine in serum and urine. Phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopy of the brain revealed no detectable creatine-phosphate before oral substitution of creatine and a significant increase afterward. Partial restoration of cerebral creatine concentrations was accompanied by improvement of the patient's neurologic symptoms. This is the first report of a patient with complete creatine deficiency in the brain. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy during arginine and creatine treatment point to an inborn error of creatine biosynthesis at the level of guanidinoacetete-methyltransferase.

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