The genetic tyrosinemias are characterized by the accumulation of tyrosine in body fluids and tissues. The most severe form of tyrosinemia, Type I, is a devastating disorder of childhood that causes liver failure, painful neurologic crises, rickets, and hepatocarcinoma. This disorder is caused by a deficiency of fumarylacetoacetate hydrolase (FAH). If untreated, death typically occurs at less than 2 years of age, with some chronic forms allowing longer survival. It has a prevalence of about 1 in 100,000 newborns in the general population. Oculocutaneous tyrosinemia, Type II, is caused by a deficiency of tyrosine aminotransferase (TAT). It clinically presents with hyperkeratotic plaques on the hands and soles of the feet and photophobia due to deposition of tyrosine crystals within the cornea. Tyrosinemia Type III is an extremely rare disorder caused by a deficiency of 4-hydroxyphenylpyruvic dioxygenase. It has been associated with ataxia and mild mental retardation. These disorders are diagnosed by observing elevated tyrosine by plasma amino acid chromatography and characteristic tyrosine metabolites by urine organic acid analysis. In tyrosinemia Type I, methionine is also elevated, reflecting impaired hepatocellular function. Urine organic acids show elevated p-hydroxy-phenyl organic acids in each type of tyrosinemia, and the pathognomic succinylacetone in tyrosinemia Type I. Diagnosis can be confirmed by enzyme or molecular studies in tyrosinemia Type I. Therapy consists of a diet low in phenylalanine and tyrosine for each of the tyrosinemias and 2-(2-nitro-4-trifluoromethylbenzoyl)-1,3-cyclohexanedione (NTBC) for tyrosinemia Type I.
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