Animal models for glutaryl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency

D. M. Koeller, S. Sauer, M. Wajner, C. F. De Mello, S. I. Goodman, M. Woontner, C. Mühlhausen, J. G. Okun, S. Kölker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


In vitro studies suggest that excitotoxic cell damage is an underlying mechanism for the acute striatal damage in glutaryl-CoA dehydrogenase (GCDH) deficiency. It is believed to result from an imbalance of glutamatergic and GABAergic neurotransmission induced by the accumulating organic acids 3-hydroxyglutaric acid (3-OH-GA) and to a lesser extent glutaric acid (GA). Stereotaxic administration of 3-OH-GA and GA into the rat striatum have confirmed these results, but may not truly represent the effect of chronic exposure to these compounds. In an attempt to better understand the pathophysiology of GCDH deficiency in vivo, two animal models have been utilized. A mouse that lacks GCDH activity in all tissues was generated by gene targeting in embryonic stem cells. These animals develop the characteristic biochemical phenotype of the human disease. Pathologically, these mice have a diffuse spongiform myelinopathy similar to that in human patients; however, there is no evidence for acute striatal damage or sensitivity to acute encephalopathy induced by catabolism or inflammatory cytokines. A naturally occurring animal model, the fruit-eating bat Rousettus aegypticus, lacks hepatic and renal GCDH activity, but retains cerebral enzyme activity. Like the mouse, these bats develop the characteristic biochemical phenotype of glutaryl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency, but lack overt neurological symptoms such as dystonia. It is not known whether they also develop the spongiform myelinopathy seen in the Gcdh-deficient mice. Otherwise, these constellations would suggest that cerebral GCDH deficiency is responsible for the development of neuronal damage. The lack of striatal damage in these two rodent models may also be related to species differences. However, they also highlight our lack of a comprehensive understanding of additional factors that might modulate the susceptibiliy of neurons to accumulating 3-OH-GA and GA in GCDH deficiency. Unravelling these mechanisms may be the key to understanding the pathophysiology of this unique disease and to the development of neuroprotective strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)813-818
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of inherited metabolic disease
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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