Biochemical and behavioural profile of NTBC treated Tyrosinemie type 1 mice

Willem G. van Ginkel, Shelley R. Winn, Sandra Dudley, Destine Krenik, Ruby Perez, Nicole Rimann, Beat Thöny, Jacob Raber, Cary Harding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Tyrosinemia type 1 (HT1) is a rare metabolic disorder caused by a defect in the tyrosine catabolic pathway. Since HT1 patients are treated with NTBC, outcome improved and life expectancy greatly increased. However extensive neurocognitive and behavioural problems have been described, which might be related to treatment with NTBC, the biochemical changes induced by NTBC, or metabolites accumulating due to the enzymatic defect characterizing the disease. Objective: To study the possible pathophysiological mechanisms of brain dysfunction in HT1, we assessed blood and brain LNAA, and brain monoamine neurotransmitter metabolite levels in relation to behavioural and cognitive performance of HT1 mice. Design: C57BL/6 littermates were divided in three different experimental groups: HT1, heterozygous and wild-type mice (n = 10; 5 male). All groups were treated with NTBC and underwent cognitive and behavioural testing. One week after behavioural testing, blood and brain material were collected to measure amino acid profiles and brain monoaminergic neurotransmitter levels. Results: Irrespective of the genetic background, NTBC treatment resulted in a clear increase in brain tyrosine levels, whereas all other brain LNAA levels tended to be lower than their reference values. Despite these changes in blood and brain biochemistry, no significant differences in brain monoamine neurotransmitter (metabolites) were found and all mice showed normal behaviour and learning and memory. Conclusion: Despite the biochemical changes, NTBC and genotype of the mice were not associated with poorer behavioural and cognitive function of the mice. Further research involving dietary treatment of FAH−/− are warranted to investigate whether this reveals the cognitive impairments that have been seen in treated HT1 patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-17
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Genetics and Metabolism
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Sep 1 2022


  • Amino acids
  • Behaviour
  • Cognition
  • Neurotransmitters
  • NTBC
  • Tyrosinemia type 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Endocrinology


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