Non-ketotic hyperglycinaemia (NKH) is a well-recognized metabolic cause of life-threatening illness in the neonate. The fundamental defect is in the glycine cleavage system, which consists of four protein components. Our study revealed that the majority of NKH patients had a specific defect in P-protein (glycine decarboxylase). The primary lesion of NKH at gene level was investigated, using cDNA encoding human glycine decarboxylase. A three-base deletion resulting in deletion of Phe756 was found in a Japanese patient with NKH. The majority of NKH patients in Finland, where there is a high incidence of NKH, were found to be due to a common mutation, a point mutation resulting in the amino acid substitution of Ile564 for Ser564. Prenatal diagnosis is feasible by determining the activity of the glycine cleavage system and is also possible by DNA analysis. Recent findings suggest that a high concentration of glycine in the brain may contribute to the pathophysiology of NKH by overactivating N-methyl-d-aspartate receptors allosterically, which may result in intracellular calcium accumulation, DNA fragmentation and neuronal death. These provide the possibility that early treatment with N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor antagonist may prevent brain damage in NKH.
ASJC Scopus subject areas