Canavan's disease is an autosomal recessive disorder caused by aspartoacylase deficiency, which leads to accumulation of N-acetylaspartic acid in the brain and blood and an elevated level of N-acetylaspartic acid in the urine. The brain of patients with Canavan's disease shows spongy degeneration. How the enzyme deficiency and elevated N-acetylaspartic acid cause the pathophysiology observed in Canavan's disease is not obvious. The creation of a knockout mouse for Canavan's disease is being used as a tool to investigate metabolic pathways in the mouse and correlate them with the patients with Canavan's disease. The level of glutamate is lower in the knockout mouse brain than in the wild-type mouse brain, similar to what we have found in children with Canavan's disease, and so are the levels of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA). The level of aspartate is higher in the Canavan's disease mouse brain. The activity of aspartate aminotransferase, an enzyme involved in the malate-aspartate shuttle, is lower in the Canavan's disease mouse brain. The lower weight of the Canavan's disease mouse was in direct proportion to low total-body fat and bone mineral density. These changes might be similar to what is seen in patients with Canavan's disease and could have therapeutic implications.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Clinical Neurology