Tetrahydrobiopterin Metabolism

  • Richard J. Cattell

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Tetrahydrobiopterin is the cofactor for the hydroxylation of phenylalanine, tyrosine and tryptophan and is therefore essential for the production of monoamine neurotransmitters. Neopterin, a biosynthetic precusor of tetrahydrobiopterin, and biopterin appear in urine. In normal subjects the urinary neopterin to biopterin ratio has been found to be about 1.00. In patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease, Down's syndrome and depression the urinary neopterin to biopterin ratio has been found to be elevated. In some Alzheimer's and depressed patients the increased urinary neopterin to biopterin ratio is proportional to the severity of the disease. Folates were found not to increase tetrahydrobiopterin biosynthesis in the rat as previously thought. Methotrexate was found to reduce liver biopterin levels and increas_ urinary biopterin levels in the rat. Methotrexate also reduced brain pterin levels but had no influence on liver pterin. Urinary isoxanthopterin, found in some patients, was found to be derived from biopterin and neopterin in the rat. Isoxanthopterin is proposed as an indicator of the levels of tetrahydrobiopterin turnover.
Date of Award1988
Original languageEnglish


  • Tetrahydrobiopterin Metabolism

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