3,4-Dihydroxyphenylalanine(DOPA) Decarboxylase Deficiency and Resultant High Levels of Plasma DOPA and Dopamine in Unfavorable Neuroblastoma

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Neuroblastoma (NB) is a tumor which arises from neural crest cells. In the developing neural crest cells, the induction of 3, 4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA) decarboxylase is more delayed than that of tyrosine hydroxylase and dopamine-β-hydroxylase. If NB cells are arrested in an early stage of neural crest development, the induction of DOPA decarboxylase is insufficient and the accumulation and secretion of DOPA can be caused. The biochemically immature phenotype is thought to represent the undifferentiated characteristics of the cells and might correlate with the grade of malignancy. To investigate whether the hypothesis is clinically applicable or not, we have measured plasma DOPA, dopamine and urinary catecholamine metabolites in NB patients. The levels of plasma DOPA, dopamine, urinary homovanillic acid (HVA) and vanillactic acid (VLA) were significantly higher in patients with unfavorable NBs and the higher plasma DOPA level was significantly associated with the patients' age (>1 year old), tumor stage (III, IV) and DNA diploidy. Serial determination of plasma DOPA was a good monitor of the disease course. These results are compatible with the hypothesis on DOPA decarboxylase deficiency and DOPA secretion in undifferentiated, unfavorable NBs. In conclusion, the plasma DOPA can be used to predict patients' prognosis as well as to follow up patients with NB. (<i>Hypertens Res</i> 1995; 18 Suppl. I: S209-S210)


  • Hypertension Research

    Hypertension Research 18, S209-S210, 1995-06-01

    The Japanese Society of Hypertension


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