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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief:

OMIM 207800
DiseasesDB 29677
eMedicine ped/132 
MeSH D020162


Argininemia, also called arginase deficiency,[1] is an autosomal recessive[2] urea cycle disorder where a deficiency of the enzyme arginase causes a build up of arginine and ammonia in the blood.

Ammonia, which is formed when proteins are broken down in the body, is toxic if levels become too high. The nervous system is especially sensitive to the effects of excess ammonia.

Historical Perspective




Argininemia has an autosomal recessive pattern of inheritance.

Mutations in the ARG1 gene cause argininemia.

Argininemia belongs to a class of genetic diseases called urea cycle disorders. The urea cycle is a sequence of reactions that occurs in liver cells. This cycle processes excess nitrogen, generated when protein is used by the body, to make a compound called urea that is excreted by the kidneys.

The ARG1 gene provides instructions for making an enzyme called arginase. This enzyme controls the final step of the urea cycle, which produces urea by removing nitrogen from arginine. In people with arginase deficiency, arginase is damaged or missing, and arginine is not broken down properly. As a result, urea cannot be produced normally, and excess nitrogen accumulates in the blood in the form of ammonia. The accumulation of ammonia and arginine are believed to cause the neurological problems and other signs and symptoms of arginase deficiency.

This condition is an autosomal recessive disorder, which means the defective gene is located on an autosome, and two copies of the defective gene are required to inherit the disorder. Both parents of an individual with an autosomal recessive disorder are carriers of one copy of the gene, but usually do not have the disorder.


Differentiating Argininemia from Other Diseases

Epidemiology and Demographics

Risk Factors


Natural History, Complications, and Prognosis


Argininemia usually becomes evident by about the age of 3. It most often appears as stiffness, especially in the legs, caused by abnormal tensing of the muscles (spasticity). Other symptoms may include slower than normal growth, developmental delay and eventual loss of developmental milestones, mental retardation, seizures, tremor, and difficulty with balance and coordination (ataxia). Occasionally, high protein meals or stress caused by illness or periods without food (fasting) may cause ammonia to accumulate more quickly in the blood. This rapid increase in ammonia may lead to episodes of irritability, refusal to eat, and vomiting.

In some affected individuals, signs and symptoms of argininemia may be less severe, and may not appear until later in life.

Diagnostic Criteria

History and Symptoms

Physical Examination

Laboratory Findings

Imaging Findings

Other Diagnostic Studies


Medical Therapy



External links


  1. Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) 207800
  2. Uchino, T; Snyderman, Se; Lambert, M; Qureshi, Ia; Shapira, Sk; Sansaricq, C; Smit, Lm; Jakobs, C; Matsuda, I (1995). "Molecular basis of phenotypic variation in patients with argininemia" (Free full text). Human genetics. 96 (3): 255–60. doi:10.1007/BF00210403. ISSN 0340-6717. PMID 7649538. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)

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