Protein Substitute Requirements of Patients with Phenylketonuria on BH4 Treatment: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

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ILGAZ F., Marsaux C., Pinto A., Singh R., Rohde C., KARABULUT E., ...More

NUTRIENTS, vol.13, no.3, 2021 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 13 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.3390/nu13031040
  • Journal Name: NUTRIENTS
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Agricultural & Environmental Science Database, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, CINAHL, EMBASE, Food Science & Technology Abstracts, MEDLINE, Veterinary Science Database, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


The traditional treatment for phenylketonuria (PKU) is a phenylalanine (Phe)-restricted diet, supplemented with a Phe-free/low-Phe protein substitute. Pharmaceutical treatment with synthetic tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4), an enzyme cofactor, allows a patient subgroup to relax their diet. However, dietary protocols guiding the adjustments of protein equivalent intake from protein substitute with BH4 treatment are lacking. We systematically reviewed protein substitute usage with long-term BH4 therapy. Electronic databases were searched for articles published between January 2000 and March 2020. Eighteen studies (306 PKU patients) were eligible. Meta-analyses demonstrated a significant increase in Phe and natural protein intakes and a significant decrease in protein equivalent intake from protein substitute with cofactor therapy. Protein substitute could be discontinued in 51% of responsive patients, but was still required in 49%, despite improvement in Phe tolerance. Normal growth was maintained, but micronutrient deficiency was observed with BH4 treatment. A systematic protocol to increase natural protein intake while reducing protein substitute dose should be followed to ensure protein and micronutrient requirements are met and sustained. We propose recommendations to guide healthcare professionals when adjusting dietary prescriptions of PKU patients on BH4. Studies investigating new therapeutic options in PKU should systematically collect data on protein substitute and natural protein intakes, as well as other nutritional factors.