In this study, we retrospectively examined the microstructural white matter integrity of children with early- and continuously-treated PKU (. N=. 36) in relation to multiple indices of phenylalanine (Phe) control over the lifetime. White matter integrity was assessed using mean diffusivity (MD) from diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Eight lifetime indices of Phe control were computed to reflect average Phe (mean, index of dietary control), variability in Phe (standard deviation, standard error of estimate, % spikes), change in Phe with age (slope), and prolonged exposure to Phe (mean exposure, standard deviation exposure). Of these indices, mean Phe, mean exposure, and standard deviation exposure were the most powerful predictors of widespread microstructural white matter integrity compromise. Findings from the two previously unexamined exposure indices reflected the accumulative effects of elevations and variability in Phe. Given that prolonged exposure to elevated and variable Phe was particularly detrimental to white matter integrity, Phe should be carefully monitored and controlled throughout childhood, without liberalization of Phe control as children with PKU age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-24
Number of pages6
JournalMolecular genetics and metabolism
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Brain
  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • Exposure
  • Phenylalanine
  • Phenylketonuria
  • White matter


Dive into the research topics of 'Prolonged exposure to high and variable phenylalanine levels over the lifetime predicts brain white matter integrity in children with phenylketonuria'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this