Metabolism of γ-hydroxybutyrate to D-2-hydroxyglutarate in mammals: Further evidence for D-2-hydroxyglutarate transhydrogenase

Eduard A. Struys, Nanda M. Verhoeven, Erwin E.W. Jansen, Herman J. Ten Brink, Maneesh Gupta, Terry G. Burlingame, Lawrence S. Quang, Timothy Maher, Piero Rinaldo, O. Carter Snead, Amy K. Goodwin, Elise M. Weerts, P. Rand Brown, Tonya C. Murphy, Mathew J. Picklo, Cornelius Jakobs, K. Michael Gibson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


γ-Hydroxybutyratic acid (GHB), and its prodrugs 4-butyrolactone and 1,4-butanediol, represent expanding drugs of abuse, although GHB is also used therapeutically to treat narcolepsy and alcoholism. Thus, the pathway by which GHB is metabolized is of importance. The goal of the current study was to examine GHB metabolism in mice with targeted ablation of the GABA degradative enzyme succinic semialdehyde dehydrogenase (SSADH-/- mice), in whom GHB persistently accumulates, and in baboons intragastrically administered with GHB immediately and persistently. Three hypotheses concerning GHB metabolism were tested: (1) degradation via mitochondrial fatty acid β-oxidation; (2) conversion to 4,5-dihydroxyhexanoic acid (a putative condensation product of the GHB derivative succinic semialdehyde); and (3) conversion to d-2-hydroxyglutaric acid (d-2-HG) catalyzed by d-2-hydroxyglutarate transhydrogenase (a reaction previously documented only in rat). Both d-2-HG and 4,5-dihydroxyhexanoic acid were significantly increased in neural and nonneural tissue extracts derived from SSADH-/- mice. In vitro studies demonstrated the ability of 4,5-dihydroxyhexanoic acid to displace the GHB receptor ligand NCS-382 (IC50 = 38 μmol/L), although not affecting GABAB receptor binding. Blood and urine derived from baboons administered with GHB also accumulated d-2-HG, but not 4,5-dihydroxyhexanoic acid. Our results indicate that d-2-HG is a prominent GHB metabolite and provide further evidence for the existence of d-2-hydroxyglutarate transhydrogenase in different mammalian species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-358
Number of pages6
JournalMetabolism: clinical and experimental
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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