• amino acids;
  • brain;
  • mutant “dl” mice


The neurologic mutant “dilute lethal” (dl) mice, which reveal several neurologic and biochemical disturbances similar to human phenylketonuria, were used to investigate some aspects of amino acid disorder. We have studied the free amino pool in the brain of “dl” mice and of their control littermates as well as phenylalanine and tyrosine levels in brain and liver as a function of age and after phenylalamine overload. The tyrosine level decreased in brain and liver of affected mice whereas the phenylalanine/tyrosine ratio increased as a function of age. The significantly higher phenylalanine level and phenylalanine/tyrosine ratio in the liver of 20-day-old “dl” mice suggest a lower liver phenylalanine hydroxylase activity. After phenylalanine overload, the impairment of phenylalanine metabolism is predominant in the brain of “dl” mice, suggesting a disturbance in phenylalanine hydroxylation. A decrease in the level of several amino acids occurs in the brains of “dl” mice without or after phenylalanine overload; these facts might correspond to a disturbance in the transfer of amino acids to the brain and may lead to impairment in protein synthesis.