Alkaptonuria (AKU, OMIM 203500) is a rare congenital disorder caused by a deficiency of the enzyme homogentisate-1,2,-dioxygenase. The long-term consequences of AKU are joint problems, cardiac valve abnormalities and renal problems. Landmark intervention studies with nitisinone 10 mg daily, suppressing an upstream enzyme activity, demonstrated its beneficial effects in AKU patients with established complications, which usually start to develop in the fourth decade. Lower dose of nitisinone in the range of 0.2-2 mg daily will already reduce urinary homogentisic acid (uHGA) excretion by > 90%, which may prevent AKU-related complications earlier in the course of the disease while limiting the possibility of side-effects related to the increase of plasma tyrosine levels caused by nitisinone. Future preventive studies should establish the lowest possible dose for an individual patient, the best age to start treatment and also collect evidence to which level uHGA excretion should be reduced to prevent complications.
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