Summary of Dietary Guidelines for PDE 2024

June 8, 2024

Understanding Pyridoxine-Dependent Epilepsy and Dietary Management: A Guide for Families: Original publication here.

Introduction to Pyridoxine-Dependent Epilepsy (PDE)

Pyridoxine-dependent epilepsy (PDE) is a rare neurometabolic disorder caused by mutations in the ALDH7A1 gene, which leads to a deficiency of the enzyme α-aminoadipic semialdehyde (α-AASA) dehydrogenase. This enzyme deficiency disrupts the lysine metabolism pathway, resulting in the accumulation of several metabolites, including α-AASA and Δ1-piperideine-6-carboxylate (Δ1-P6C). These metabolites deactivate pyridoxal-5-phosphate (PLP), a vital cofactor for over 160 enzymatic activities, leading to seizures that can often be fatal if not managed properly.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

PDE typically presents in newborns with epilepsy that is resistant to conventional anti-epileptic medications but responds to pyridoxine (vitamin B6) supplementation. Some individuals may present symptoms later in life, from infancy to adolescence. Despite seizure control with pyridoxine, many patients experience developmental delays and intellectual disabilities. Diagnosis is often confirmed through genetic testing and measurement of specific biomarkers in blood and urine.

Treatment Approaches

Treatment for PDE involves lifelong pyridoxine supplementation. However, to improve neurological outcomes, additional therapies such as lysine-restricted diets (LRD) and L-arginine supplementation are recommended. These therapies aim to reduce the accumulation of toxic metabolites and are collectively referred to as lysine reduction therapies (LRT).

Dietary Management

Lysine-Restricted Diet (LRD):

    • Lysine is an essential amino acid necessary for protein synthesis, carnitine production, and calcium absorption. However, in PDE, lysine restriction is crucial to reduce the production of harmful metabolites.
    • Diet Calculation: The diet is tailored to individual needs based on age and growth requirements, aiming to provide enough lysine for normal bodily functions while minimizing excess.
    • Protein Sources: A balance of low biological value (LBV) proteins (e.g., cereals, vegetables) and high biological value (HBV) proteins (e.g., meat, dairy) is recommended. The goal is to provide about 70% of protein from LBV sources and 30% from HBV sources to ensure adequate nutritional intake without excessive lysine.

    Lysine-Free Protein Substitutes:

      • These substitutes provide necessary protein without lysine, helping to meet total protein requirements. They are especially important for infants and young children to support growth and development.
      • Tryptophan Consideration: Since many lysine-free substitutes are also low in tryptophan, it’s important to monitor and supplement tryptophan if needed.

      Breastfeeding and Bottle Feeding:

        • Breastfeeding: Limited breastfeeding is encouraged, supplemented with lysine-free formula to control lysine intake.
        • Bottle Feeding: A combination of standard infant formula and lysine-free formula is used, with careful monitoring to ensure lysine intake remains within the prescribed range.

        Energy and Micronutrient Requirements:

          • Energy requirements for PDE patients are similar to those of the general population. Regular monitoring ensures nutritional adequacy.
          • Micronutrients should be regularly assessed, with supplements provided as necessary to prevent deficiencies, especially for iron, vitamin B12, and vitamin D.

          Monitoring and Adjustments

          Regular biochemical monitoring is essential for managing PDE effectively:

          • Plasma Amino Acids: Regular tests (every 3-6 months) to ensure lysine levels are within the lower quartile of the normal reference range.
          • PDE-Specific Biomarkers: Measuring α-AASA and Δ1-P6C levels in plasma and urine helps assess the efficacy of the LRT.
          • Micronutrient Levels: Regular checks to prevent deficiencies.

          Emergency Management

          During illness or febrile episodes, the risk of seizures increases:

          • Pyridoxine Dose Adjustment: The dose may be doubled temporarily to manage breakthrough seizures.
          • Maintaining Nutritional Intake: High-carbohydrate drinks and frequent, smaller doses of lysine-free protein substitutes help prevent catabolism.


          Managing PDE requires a comprehensive, individualized approach, integrating dietary management with regular monitoring and adjustments. Collaboration between dietitians, nutritionists, and physicians ensures the best outcomes for children with PDE. These updated guidelines provide a practical framework to support families and healthcare providers in optimizing care for PDE patients.

          Leave a Reply

          Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

          © 2023 Cure PDE Foundation | All Rights Reserved | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy