Hereditary Tyrosinemia Type 1 Mice under Continuous Nitisinone Treatment Display Remnants of an Uncorrected Liver Disease Phenotype

Jessie Neuckermans, Sien Lequeue, Paul Claes, Anja Heymans, Juliette H. Hughes, Haaike Colemonts-Vroninks, Lionel Marcélis, Georges Casimir, Philippe Goyens, Geert A. Martens, James A. Gallagher, Tamara Vanhaecke, George Bou-Gharios, Joery De Kock

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Hereditary tyrosinemia type 1 (HT1) is a genetic disorder of the tyrosine degradation pathway (TIMD) with unmet therapeutic needs. HT1 patients are unable to fully break down the amino acid tyrosine due to a deficient fumarylacetoacetate hydrolase (FAH) enzyme and, therefore, accumulate toxic tyrosine intermediates. If left untreated, they experience hepatic failure with comorbidities involving the renal and neurological system and the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Nitisinone (NTBC), a potent inhibitor of the 4-hydroxyphenylpyruvate dioxygenase (HPD) enzyme, rescues HT1 patients from severe illness and death. However, despite its demonstrated benefits, HT1 patients under continuous NTBC therapy are at risk to develop HCC and adverse reactions in the eye, blood and lymphatic system, the mechanism of which is poorly understood. Moreover, NTBC does not restore the enzymatic defects inflicted by the disease nor does it cure HT1. Here, the changes in molecular pathways associated to the development and progression of HT1-driven liver disease that remains uncorrected under NTBC therapy were investigated using whole transcriptome analyses on the livers of Fah- and Hgd-deficient mice under continuous NTBC therapy and after seven days of NTBC therapy discontinuation. Alkaptonuria (AKU) was used as a tyrosine-inherited metabolic disorder reference disease with non-hepatic manifestations. The differentially expressed genes were enriched in toxicological gene classes related to liver disease, liver damage, liver regeneration and liver cancer, in particular HCC. Most importantly, a set of 25 genes related to liver disease and HCC development was identified that was differentially regulated in HT1 vs. AKU mouse livers under NTBC therapy. Some of those were further modulated upon NTBC therapy discontinuation in HT1 but not in AKU livers. Altogether, our data indicate that NTBC therapy does not completely resolves HT1-driven liver disease and supports the sustained risk to develop HCC over time as different HCC markers, including Moxd1, Saa, Mt, Dbp and Cxcl1, were significantly increased under NTBC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)693
Number of pages1
Issue number3
Early online date11 Mar 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Mar 2023


  • Genetics (clinical)
  • Genetics


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