Olivopontocerebellar degeneration associated with 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaric aciduria in a domestic shorthair cat


A rescue charity-owned 6-month-old neutered female domestic shorthair cat was presented with progressive tetraparesis, increased extensor muscle tone and signs of spinocerebellar ataxia, including hypermetria. The cat’s male sibling, with similar progressive neurological signs, had been euthanased 2 months previously. An inherited metabolic disorder was suspected. Urine for determination of organic acid concentration was obtained and the cat was prescribed carnitine and taurine supplementation. The cat was euthanased 3 months later following progressive neurological signs, including ataxia, tetraparesis, tendency to fall, bilateral absent menace response and intention tremor. A selective post-mortem examination was obtained, taking samples from the brain, cervical spinal cord, tibial branch of the sciatic nerve, muscle, liver and kidneys. Organic acid analysis results received after euthanasia revealed a marked elevation of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaric acid (45 mmol/mol creatine [normal range 0–2]) and isovalerylglycine (27 mmol/mol creatinine [normal range 0–2]). 3-Hydroxy-3-methylglutaric acid was deemed clinically relevant as it is a metabolite of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA lyase, the enzyme involved in the final step of leucine degradation. Post-mortem examination revealed diffuse, chronic-active, severe olivoponto-(spino)-cerebellar degeneration.

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