Serial Magnetic Resonance Imaging and 1H-Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy in GABA Transaminase Deficiency: A Case Report

  • Kazushi IchikawaEmail author
  • Megumi Tsuji
  • Yu Tsuyusaki
  • Moyoko Tomiyasu
  • Noriko Aida
  • Tomohide Goto
Research Report
Part of the JIMD Reports book series (JIMD, volume 43)


Gamma-aminobutyric acid transaminase (GABA-T) deficiency is a rare, autosomal recessive disorder characterized by severe psychomotor retardation, early-onset epileptic encephalopathy, intractable seizures, hypotonia, and hyperreflexia. The disease is caused by mutation in the 4-aminobutyrate aminotransferase (ABAT) gene, which encodes an enzyme involved in GABA catabolism. In this chapter, a 10-year follow-up of GABA-T deficiency in a rare case of a long-term survivor patient is discussed. The patient showed a progression of clinical phases with increasing age. In infancy, the patient developed psychomotor retardation and recurrent encephalopathic episodes associated with febrile illness. In early childhood, the patient presented with refractory involuntary and hyperkinetic movements and dystonic hypertonicity. In childhood, the patient gradually progressed into the chronic stable phase of the condition. Magnetic resonance imaging demonstrated high signal intensity on diffusion-weighted images involving the internal and external capsules and cerebral white matter in infancy which disappeared gradually by the age of 3 years, and showed subsequently diffuse brain atrophy in childhood. Using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy, GABA levels in the basal ganglia were shown to be markedly elevated at the age of 1–2 years, and subsequently decreased with increasing age (toward 5 years). These findings suggest that the encephalopathic episodes in infancy and clinical severity of involuntary and hyperkinetic movements may be correlated with levels of GABA in the basal ganglia. The high levels of GABA in the cerebrospinal fluid remained unaltered, whereas levels of GABA in the serum decreased during childhood. Further investigation of long-term clinical surveillance may improve the understanding of GABA-T deficiency.


4-Aminobutyrate aminotransferase Basal ganglia Gamma-aminobutyric acid Gamma-aminobutyric acid transaminase Magnetic resonance spectroscopy 



This work was supported by Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) KAKENHI Grant Number 26461843.


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Copyright information

© Society for the Study of Inborn Errors of Metabolism (SSIEM) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kazushi Ichikawa
    • 1
    Email author
  • Megumi Tsuji
    • 1
  • Yu Tsuyusaki
    • 1
  • Moyoko Tomiyasu
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Noriko Aida
    • 2
  • Tomohide Goto
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of NeurologyKanagawa Children’s Medical CenterYokohamaJapan
  2. 2.Department of RadiologyKanagawa Children’s Medical CenterYokohamaJapan
  3. 3.Department of Molecular Imaging and TheranosticsNational Institute of Radiological SciencesChibaJapan
  4. 4.Research Center for Child Mental DevelopmentChiba UniversityChibaJapan

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