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Alkaptonuria: Current Perspectives

Authors Zatkova A, Ranganath L, Kadasi L

Received 30 September 2019

Accepted for publication 4 December 2019

Published 23 January 2020 Volume 2020:13 Pages 37—47


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Prof. Dr. Martin H. Maurer

Andrea Zatkova,1 Lakshminarayan Ranganath,2 Ludevit Kadasi1,3

1Department of Human Genetics, Biomedical Research Center, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Institute of Clinical and Translational Research, Bratislava, Slovakia; 2National Alkaptonuria Centre, Royal Liverpool University Hospital, Liverpool, UK; 3Faculty of Natural Sciences, Department of Molecular Biology, Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovakia

Correspondence: Ludevit Kadasi
Department of Molecular Biology, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Comenius University Address 6 Ilkovicova, Bratislava 84215, Slovakia
Tel +421 905 659 880
Email [email protected]

Abstract: The last 15 years have been the most fruitful in the history of research on the metabolic disorder alkaptonuria (AKU). AKU is caused by a deficiency of homogentisate dioxygenase (HGD), the enzyme involved in metabolism of tyrosine, and is characterized by the presence of dark ochronotic pigment in the connective tissue that is formed, due to high levels of circulating homogentisic acid. Almost 120 years ago, Sir Archibald Garrod used AKU to illustrate the concept of Mendelian inheritance in man. In January 2019, the phase III clinical study SONIA 2 was completed, which tested the effectiveness and safety of nitisinone in the treatment of AKU. Results were positive, and they will serve as the basis for the application for registration of nitisinone for treatment of AKU at the European Medicines Agency. Therefore, AKU might become a rare disease for which a cure will be found by 2020. We understand the natural history of the disease and the process of ochronosis much more, but at the same time there are still unanswered questions. One of them is the issue of the factors influencing the varying severity of the disease, since our recent genotype–phenotype study did not show that differences in residual homogentisic acid activity caused by the different mutations was responsible. Although nitisinone has proved to arrest the process of ochronosis, it has some unwanted effects and does not cure the disease completely. As such, enzyme replacement or gene therapy might become a new focus of AKU research, for which a novel suitable mouse model of AKU is available already. We believe that the story of AKU is also a story of effective collaboration between scientists and patients that might serve as an example for other rare diseases.

Keywords: alkaptonuria, rare disease, ochronosis, nitisinone, ochronotic pigment

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