Pantothenic acid is an essential B vitamin that is converted to coenzyme A (unrelated to vitamin A). Coenzyme A is needed for the synthesis of fatty acids, cholesterol, and acetyl choline and is also needed for the Krebs cycle and fatty acid catabolism.
High pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5) most commonly indicates recent intake of pantothenic acid as a supplement. Pantothenic acid is an essential B vitamin that is converted to coenzyme A (unrelated to vitamin A). Coenzyme A is needed for the synthesis of fatty acids, cholesterol, and acetyl choline and is also needed for the Krebs cycle and fatty acid catabolism. Because some individuals may require high doses of pantothenic acid, high values do not necessarily indicate the need to reduce pantothenic acid intake. However, if a patient who does not take B-vitamin supplements has high values of pantothenic acid, especially if the values are 20 or more times the upper limit of normal, the individual may have a genetic deficiency in the conversion of pantothenic acid to pantothenic acid-phosphate, which is the first step in the production of coenzyme A.
It may be useful to retest after one week off all B-vitamin supplementation; individuals with PKAN would be expected to still have very elevated pantothenic acid levels even with no supplementation. This disease is called pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration (PKAN), an inborn error of metabolism characterized by iron accumulation in the basal ganglia and by the presence of dystonia, dysarthria, Parkinson symptoms, and retinal degeneration. In mild variants of this disease, psychiatric illnesses such as schizoaffective disorder, hallucinations, obsessive compulsive disorder, speech defects, and depression are common. Mutations in pantothenate kinase 2 (PANK2), the rate-limiting enzyme in mitochondrial coenzyme A biosynthesis, represent the most common genetic cause of this disorder.
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