Phenylalanine and tyrosine kinetics in critically Ill children with sepsis

Leticia Castillo, Y. Ming Yu, J. Sergio Marchini, Thomas E. Chapman, Melchor Sanchez, Vernon R. Young, John F. Burke

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47 Scopus citations


To better understand the impact of severe illness on the amino acid economy and nutritional needs of pediatric patients, we studied plasma phenylalanine and tyrosine kinetics in eleven critically ill patients (six full-term newborns and five young infants). Within 48 h of the diagnosis of sepsis they were given primed constant i.v. infusions of L-[l-13C]phenylalanine and L.-[3,3,2H2]tyrosine for 4 h. Routine nutritional support continued during this period by parenteral administration of dextrose, lipid emulsion, and an amino acid mixture low in tyrosine. Phenylalanine and tyrosine fluxes and rate of phenylalanine hy-droxylation did not differ significantly between the two age groups, and so the data were combined for evaluation. For the entire group, values (μ mol · kg-1 · h-1; mean ± SD) for phenylalanine and tyrosine fluxes and rate of phenylalanine hydroxylation were 132 ± 24, 66 ± 16, and 29 + 12, respectively. Plasma phenylalanine to tyrosine concentration ratio was 1.67 ± 0.6. From a comparison of the rate of phenylalanine hydroxylation with measured phenylalanine intakes, it was concluded that their routine, clinical nutritional support was inadequate to achieve body phenylalanine balance. In comparison with published data, the relative rate of phenylalanine hydroxylation appears to be high. We speculate that tyrosine is a conditionally indispensable amino acid under these conditions; it would be desirable to establish the intake levels and ratio of phenylalanine to tyrosine that effectively support aromatic amino acid balance in these critically ill patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)580-588
Number of pages9
JournalPediatric Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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