Similarities and differences in key diagnosis, treatment, and management approaches for PAH deficiency in the United States and Europe


Abstract Background Individuals with phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH) deficiency lack an enzyme needed to metabolize the amino acid, phenylalanine. This leads to an increase of phenylalanine in the blood, which is associated with changes in cognitive and psychological functioning. Skilled clinical management is essential for preventing complications and providing comprehensive care to patients. In the last decade, the American College of Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) and a group of European experts developed separate guidelines to provide recommendations for the management and care of persons with PAH deficiency. The purpose of this paper was to compare and contrast these guidelines in order to understand the different approaches to PAH deficiency care. Methods We examined the procedures used to develop both guidelines, then evaluated key areas in PAH deficiency care which included screening, diagnostic approaches, dietary treatment (initiation and duration), ongoing phenylalanine level/ nutritional monitoring, neurocognitive screening, adherence issues in treatment, and special populations (women and maternal PKU, late or untreated PAH deficiency, and transitioning to adult services). We conducted a scoping review of four key topics in PAH deficiency care to explore recent research studies performed since the publication of the guidelines. Results The ACMG and European expert group identified limited numbers of high quality studies to use as evidence for their recommendations. The ACMG and European guidelines had many similarities in their respective approaches PAH deficiency care and recommendations for the diagnosis, treatment, and management for persons with PAH deficiency. There were also a number of differences between the guidelines regarding the upper range for phenylalanine levels in adolescents and adults, the types of instruments used and frequency of neuropsychiatric examinations, and monitoring of bone health. Treatment adherence can be associated with a number of challenges, such as aversions to medical foods and formulas, as well as factors related to educational, social, and psychosocial issues. From the scoping review, there were many new studies addressing issues in treatment and management including new research on sapropterin adherence and increased dietary protein tolerance and pegvaliase on the reduction in phenylalanine levels and hypersensitivity reactions. Conclusions In the last decade, ACMG and European experts developed comprehensive guidelines for the clinical management of phenylalanine hydroxylase deficiency. The guidelines offered background and recommendations for clinical care of patients with PAH deficiency throughout the lifespan. New research evidence is available and updates to guidelines can keep pace with new developments. Evidence-based guidelines for diagnosis and treatment are important for providing expert care to patients.

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