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Environ Health Perspect. 2000 June; 108(Suppl 3): 409–411.
PMCID: PMC1637829
Research Article

Dopamine function in Lesch-Nyhan disease.


Lesch-Nyhan disease is a disorder of purine metabolism resulting from mutations in the gene for hypoxanthine guanine phosphoribosyl transferase on the X chromosome. It is characterized by hyperuricemia and all of its consequences, as in gout; but in addition, patients have impressive disease of the central nervous system. This includes spasticity, involuntary movements, and retardation of motor development. The behavioral phenotype is best remembered by self-injurious biting behavior with attendant destruction of tissue. The connection between aberrant metabolism of purines and these neurologic and behavioral features of the disease is not clear. Increasing evidence points to imbalance of neurotransmitters. There is increased excretion of the serotonin metabolite 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid in the urine. There are decreased quantities and activities of a number of dopaminergic functions. Positron emission tomography scanning has indicated deficiency in the dopamine transporter.

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