Aromatc L-amino Acid Decarboxylase Enzymology

Optimal Result: 23.8 - 42.9 pmol/min/ml.

Aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase (AADC) enzyme plays a crucial role in the human body's ability to process certain amino acids into neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers that transmit signals in the brain and other areas of the nervous system.

AADC acts on L-amino acids, particularly those with an aromatic side chain, such as L-dopa (levodopa), converting them into dopamine, and 5-hydroxytryptophan into serotonin. These neurotransmitters are essential for regulating mood, movement, and autonomic functions within the body.

The assessment of AADC enzyme activity can help diagnose AADC deficiency—a rare but serious condition that affects neurotransmitter synthesis, leading to developmental delays, movement disorders, and autonomic dysfunction. By evaluating this marker, healthcare providers can gain insights into a patient's neurotransmitter production capabilities, guiding diagnosis and treatment strategies for conditions influenced by neurotransmitter levels. This makes the Aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase enzyme a significant point of interest for researchers and clinicians alike, offering a window into the complex interplay of genetics, enzyme activity, and neurological health.

What does it mean if your Aromatc L-amino Acid Decarboxylase Enzymology result is too low?

If the actvity of aromatc L-amino acid decarboxylase (AADC) in plasma is just below the reference range it is unlikely to be of any clinical signifcance. This essentally rules out a primary defciency of AADC.


Low levels of Aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase (AADC) enzyme signify a potential deficiency, which can have profound implications for neurological and bodily functions due to its role in synthesizing key neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. This deficiency disrupts the normal signaling pathways in the brain, leading to various symptoms and health issues. Typically, symptoms of AADC deficiency manifest early in life and may include developmental delays, muscle weakness, movement disorders (such as difficulties in coordination and controlling voluntary movements), autonomic dysfunction (which can affect processes like blood pressure regulation and temperature control), and severe cases might present seizures.

The causes of AADC deficiency are genetic, resulting from mutations in the DDC gene, which provides instructions for making the AADC enzyme.

Diagnosis of this condition involves a combination of clinical evaluation of symptoms, biochemical tests measuring the levels of neurotransmitters and their metabolites in cerebrospinal fluid, and genetic testing to identify mutations in the DDC gene.

Treatment options for AADC deficiency aim to manage symptoms and improve quality of life. These can include pharmacological approaches to increase neurotransmitter levels or mimic their action, such as using dopamine agonists or monoamine oxidase inhibitors. In some instances, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), which serves as a cofactor for the AADC enzyme, is used in treatment, though its effectiveness can vary. Additionally, innovative treatments like gene therapy are being explored, which offer the potential to address the underlying genetic causes of the deficiency by introducing a correct copy of the DDC gene into the patient's cells, thus providing a more definitive solution. Supportive therapies, including physical and occupational therapy, are also critical components of managing the condition, helping individuals maximize their mobility and ability to perform daily activities.

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