Propionic Acidemia Foundation Research Grant Guofang Zhang

PAF Awards $48,500 Research Grant

Guofang Zhang, PhD, Duke University

“Propionyl-CoA and propionylcarnitine mediate cardiac complications in patients with propionic acidemia”

Energy production is the central cardiac metabolism for continuous mechanical work. An average human adult heart consumes ~ 6 kg ATP/day. ATP storage in the heart is only sufficient to sustain the heart beat for a few seconds. A tightly coupled cardiac energy metabolism from various substrates is critical for sufficient ATP production required by normal heart function.

One molecule of palmitic acid (fatty acid) generates much more ATP than one molecule of glucose does after their complete metabolism.Fatty acids contribute ~70-90% cardiac energy production in normal condition. However, heart still maintains high flexibility of fuel switch in response to various available substrates. Acetyl-CoA is the first convergent metabolite derived from the diverse fuel substrates via different pathways and enters tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCAC) for energy production. Therefore, the level of acetyl-CoA or the ratio of acetyl-CoA/CoA tightly controls the metabolic fluxes from two major fuels, i.e.,glucose and fatty acid, in the heart. Acetyl-CoA or CoA level is also finely tuned by carnitine acetyltransferase (CrAT) that catalyzes the reversible interconversion between short-chain acyl-CoAs and acylcarnitines.Acetylcarnitine level is ~10-100 fold greater than that of acetyl-CoA in heart and is seen as the buffer of acetyl-CoA. CrAT is highly expressed in high energy demanding organs including heart and mediates fatty acid and glucose metabolism possibly by dynamically interconverting acetyl-CoA and acetylcarnitine into each other.The deficiency of CrAT has been shown to change cardiac fuel selection.

Propionic acidemia (PA) is often associated with cardiac complications. However, the pathological mechanism remains unknown. We have demonstrated that high exogenous propionate led to the propionyl-CoA accumulation and cardiac fuel switch from fatty acid to glucose in the perfused normal rat hearts (Am. J Physiol. Endocrinol. Metab.,2018,315:E622-E633). The deficiency of propionyl-CoA carboxylase in PA also induces the accumulation of propionyl-CoA. Next, we will attempt to understand whether and how the elevated propionyl-CoA in the Pcca-/- heart (collaboration with Dr. Michael Barry)could interrupt cardiac energy metabolism by investigating the fuel switch flexibility, CrAT mediated metabolism, and buffer capacity of acetylcarnitine using stable isotope-based metabolic flux analysis (J. Biol. Chem., 2015,290:8121-32). We hope that the outcome of this project will provide meaningful therapeutic recommendation for patients with PA, especially with the cardiac complication.

Donations – Talli

Donate in Loving Memory of Talli Smith

Your gift supports our mission to find improved treatments and a cure for Propionic Acidemia by funding research and providing information and support to families and medical professionals.   The Propionic Acidemia Foundation is a registered 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization.   Contributions to Propionic Acidemia Foundation are tax deductible; however, consult with your tax advisor for your particular circumstances. Your gift makes a big impact.

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Peter – updated 10/18/18


Hello, my name is Peter and I am 24 years old currently living in Rochester, New York. I have PA. During the first 4 weeks of my life, I was considered “fussy”, but nothing out of the ordinary. At 4 weeks, I experienced projectile vomiting, around the time my mom started supplementing breast milk with formula. I was admitted to the hospital and they believed it was due to my pyloric sphincter (the muscle at stomach opening) and they performed surgery. I stopped vomiting and my health improved for a few weeks, but hindsight suggests it is because I was placed on iv’s and was “cleaned out” during the surgical procedure.

At 6 weeks, I began having absence seizures and was re-admitted to the hospital. A diagnosis came two weeks later. The seizures were a result of extremely elevated glycine levels that crossed the blood/ brain barrier to spinal fluid. All they could do was start me on a non-offending diet and wait for the glycine to reduce. I was started on Propimex (my “special juice”), and 4 weeks later (still in the hospital) the seizures stopped and I was released from the hospital.

My early muscle tone was impacted and I did not walk until 18 months. Physically I seemed delayed but other development testing was favorable.  They monitored my physical and mental development over several years.

Since my hospitalization as an infant I have never had a related metabolic “episode”, or any additional seizures or hospital stays.

My diet was supplemented with Propimex formula until I was about 4 years old. I was a vegetarian until 10 years old when I had my first hot dog! My favorite food was and still is pasta. I had bi-annual appointments at the metabolic clinic at the University of Rochester Medical Centerin which a dietician would suggest the amount of protein I should be eating. I took my lunch through my high school years to help control protein amounts.  It was relatively easy to stay within the protein guidelines since I did not eat a lot of meat.

In high school, I began having rapid heart palpitations and sometimes struggled in gym class when we had to run long distances.I was sent to a pediatric cardiologist for a baseline EKG and had a slightly prolonged Q time.The doctors determined that I had metabolic induced cardiomyopathy. This has been noted in other PA patients.

I was treated with a low dose beta blocker and blood pressure medication to help manage blood flow and hopefully minimize tachycardia events.I have been monitored yearly and my Q time is now “high normal” along with a normal eco cardiogram for 2 years now. I have learned that if I exercise on a near empty stomach, I feel fine! I do have an occasional adrenaline induced tachycardia but I have learned to manage it bytaking deep breaths to stop it quickly.

I went away to college and graduated with both a Music Business / Vocal Performance Degree, and then followed with a second degree in Business Administration. I lived in the dorms, ate campus food, and had a great college experience! I really did not have any issue eating dormitory food as there were many vegetarian options available. I tend to self-regulate and really am not a big meat eater. I probably eat meat or fish2 to 3 times a week. By the way, I LOVE sushi.

I am currently employed as a National Sales Representative  for a company which sells HR, payroll and other services to local businesses. Since middle school, I have been involved in musicals, opera productions, and a cappella groups.

With respect to my current medications, I currently take Levo carnitine and it can be a struggle to keep my free carnitine in the normal range.  I have blood tests once per year and the only thing elevated is glycine and propionic acid levels. All other amino acids remain in the normal range. As mentioned I take a beta blocker and an ACE inhibitor.

I have yearly appointments at U of Rochester Med Center- Pediatric Genetics and also a yearly visit with the cardiologist. Over my lifetime U of R has struggled to keep a full time metabolic specialist on staff. My current physician covers both genetics and metabolics and is extremely busy.

I have never been genetically typed and I would love to support future research or disease understanding. My family and I are happy to share details to anyone who is interested.

That is my story, and I know that I am one of the lucky ones. I do hope that my story encourages parents and children learning to live with PA.

Thank you,

Novel therapies for Propionic acidemia – update Sept. 2018

Novel therapies for Propionic acidemia

Nicola Brunetti-Pierri, MD, Fondazione Telethon, Italy

This proposal was focused on the characterization of a fish model of propionic acidemia (PA) and on the development of novel therapies. The PA medaka fish model was found to recapitulate several clinical and biochemical features of the human disease, including reduced survival and locomotor activity, hepatic lipid accumulation, increased propionylcarnitine, methylcitrate, and propionate. Moreover, PA fishes showed better survival when fed with low-protein diet.

To gain insight into the disease pathogenesis and to search for potentially novel therapeutic targets, we performed an unbiased 3’-mRNA-Seq and NMR-based metabolome analyses. Both analyses showed global differences between PA and wild-type (wt) medaka. Interestingly, metabolism of glycine and serine resulted affected both at transcriptional and metabolites level and further studies are ongoing to investigate the role of these changes in the disease pathogenesis. Moreover, we found a marked increase in protein propionylation in PA fishes compared to wt controls. Protein propionylation is a post-translational modification occurring under normal conditions but its physiological role is unknown. Like protein acetylation, it is likely involved in regulation of gene expression, protein-protein interactions, and enzyme function. Interestingly, NAD-dependent sirtuins that are responsible of deacetylation of multiple proteins and have also de-propionylating activity, were significantly reduced in PA fishes. We speculated that aberrant protein propionylation in PA is toxic and proteomic studies are ongoing to reveal proteins with aberrant propionylation. With the support of this grant several drug candidates have been also investigated with the goal of developing new pharmacological approaches for PA.

In conclusion, we performed extensive phenotyping of the PA fish model that can be useful to unravel novel disease mechanisms and therapeutic targets.

updated September 2018

Delima Page

Fundraiser for Propionic Acidemia Foundation (PAF) in memory of Lauren and in honour of Jenna

Help Aubrey reach her goal!

Goal:  $2500    Raised as of 11/12:   $1167

Aubrey, mom to Jenna and Lauren will run the Vancouver Fall Classic Half Marathon on Nov. 4th, 2018… at the same time as other PAF parents are running the NY Marathon!

We are fundraising for PAF, as our adult daughter Jenna continues to live with this disorder.  More research and funding arerequired to get closer to finding a cure!  We are optimistic that in Jenna’s lifetime, a cure will be found.

Jenna is now an adult.  She is turning 20 on November 18th!  She graduated high-school life skills and is transitioned to a program called Gateway To Adulthood (GTA).  Jenna’s metabolic status has been stable.  However, last year when Jenna turned 19 she suddenly had her first seizure.  It was a scary time for us as we didn’t understand why she developed epilepsy.  It was happening often.  With a metabolic crisis, we knew our protocol.  Yet, with seizures we had to be alert and constantly in Jenna’s presence, as it could happen at any time.

As with any “normal” teen, Jenna is longing for her independence and seeks the love of a boy.  She admits to being a romantic and wants her prince charming to come one day and sweep her off her feet!  Jenna is quite the fashionista, too.  She wants to (one day) start her own clothing line that she designed.  In her free time, she likes to create stories:  Love stories, to be exact.  She will ask her friends to act out her story. Like a boss director, Jenna knows what she wants and tells everyone their rolls!  We are extremely proud of our daughter.  Once a baby we thought we would not see to live past age of 3, is now a thriving adult and living a beautiful life.

Help us  reach our goal of raising $2500 for PAF!

Below are details of previous year’s fundraising results & photos:


This year marks the 8th year of the DELIMA family campaign in memory of Lauren.

Thank you for your continued support.

Love, the DELIMA Family

PAF sponsors research on propionic acidemia by minority students – Summer 2017

PAF sponsors research on propionic acidemia by minority students – Summer 2017

Last summer, Propionic Acidemia Foundation (PAF) established a collaboration with Dr. Patricia Schneider from the department of Biology at Queensborough Community College (QCC, Queens, New York) to sponsor a project on the impact of propionic acid in the incidence of autism in Propionic Acidemia (PA) affected individuals. The project was part of the research initiative “Bridges to the Baccaularate”, a National Institute of Health (NIH) funded project that provides resources for a summer research project for minority students. Designed and mentored by Dr. Marisa Cotrina, herself the mother of a PA child, this work investigated the incidence of autism in the propionic acidemia population and the validity of mouse models of autism to study the impact of propionic acid in brain. A unique asset of the project was the utilization of the data collected by the PAF PA International Patient Registry. The authors of the study are currently preparing a manuscript for publication of the results found.

At the end of the project, our student, Sindy Ferreiras, had the opportunity to present her research in the area of Neuroscience at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for minority students (ABRCAMS) that took place in Phoenix, Arizona last November. Well done, Sindy!

PAF Awards grant for Dr. Oleg Shchelochkov and Dr. Charles P. Venditti for $32,912

PAF awarded a  $32,912 research grant to Oleg Shchelochkov, M.D. and Charles P. Venditti MD, PhD at National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health  – 2018

“Diversion of Isoleucine and Valine Oxidative Pathway to Reduce the Propionogenic Load in Propionic Acidemia.”

Patients with propionic acidemia require lifelong protein restriction. In addition to taking a protein restricted diet, many propionic acidemia patients are also prescribed medical formulas. This dietary approach aims to decrease the intake of four amino acids that can become propionic acid. These four amino acids – isoleucine, valine, threonine, and methionine – are called essential, because they cannot be made in the human body and need to be supplied from foods. Too much protein intake creates a situation where excess can lead to a buildup of propionic acid in the body. On the other hand, limiting these four amino acids too much can lead to poor growth. Therefore, patients’ diets are optimized to minimize propionic acid production while encouraging good growth. We wonder whether it is possible to increase dietary protein intake while minimizing the risk of propionic acid buildup.

To answer this question, we are planning to do a series of experiments in zebrafish. Why use zebrafish? Zebrafish share significant similarity to humans in how they process propionic acid. In addition, zebrafish reproduce and mature quickly, which are very important qualities to help search for new drugs that could be used to treat propionic acidemia. Our zebrafish are kept in a special building where the animals are being cared for by a dedicated team that includes scientists, veterinarians, engineers, aquatic specialists, and many others. They check on fish and feed them several times a day, maintain fish tanks, and keep their water very clean.

This type of facility is unique and had enabled our studies of metabolic diseases in zebrafish. Our ongoing studies have shown that zebrafish affected by metabolic diseases have symptoms that are very similar to patients. Even with treatment, affected fish have difficulty growing, get tired easily, have poor appetites and sometimes perish before adulthood. Using special genomic tools, we are planning to change in how the fish processes protein to direct it away from becoming propionic acid. As we make these changes to the biochemical pathways of propionic acidemia zebrafish, we will be carefully watching how these treatments improve their growth, development, appetite and survival. These experiments will help us understand how we can potentially reduce propionic acid toxicity while helping patients achieve a less restrictive diet.

Interview with Joel Pardo  – Summer  2020

Can you tell me about yourself and how you became interested in science?

I was always interested in the sciences. I think ultimately what propelled me towards a career in science was my research experience at the University of California, San Diego. The mentorship I received from Dr. Joshua Bloomekatz helped me develop the ability to reason scientifically and appreciate the opportunities to grow professionally. I learned from him how to design experiments to answer important scientific questions. We often had lengthy discussions about the direction of my project. He helped me make sense of the collection of observations coming from different sources and nurtured my own independent thinking.In gaining an appreciation for his analytical method of thinking, I began to see myself as someday contributing to scientific thinking as a physician-scientist.

During your training at NIH, you worked on a project to find new treatments using zebrafish. What did you find exciting and challenging about studying zebrafish?

Most people are familiar with mice, which are often used in science to find and test new drugs. Working with mice requires a lot of work to have enough animals needed for an experiment. Zebrafish, on the other hand, can produce hundreds of offspring after one breeding cycle. Zebrafish lay eggs directly into water, which also makes it easier to study them soon after they hatch. Somewhat surprisingly,the zebrafish enzymes that handle propionic acid are very similar to the enzymes in humans. These two properties of zebrafish make them an exciting model to study a disease like propionic acidemia.

One of the most challenging parts of my research in zebrafish was their size. Zebrafish offspring are very small, measuring less than a quarter of an inch. I had to spend a lot of time looking at zebrafish under the microscope and learn how to move them around without hurting them. This can be difficult as these small animals are fragile at this young age.

Can you tell us about your PA project?

Earlier in my work, we were able to get zebrafish, which had mutations in the genes linked to propionic acidemia. I needed to understand what propionic acidemia does to zebrafish. We were able to show that propionic acidemia in zebrafish looks a lot like the disease we see in patients. Fish with propionic acidemia had poor appetite, did not grow well, and had difficulty moving. Using special genetic tools, we then attempted to change how zebrafish processed propionic acid and helped them survive longer. Our preliminary results are proving promising, but more work is still needed.

What are your plans after you complete your training at NIH?

The NIH postbac program is a full-time research award for students that have recently completed a bachelor’s degree and are considering a career in science or medicine. I was fortunate enough to join Dr. Charles Venditti’s lab 2 years ago to work on the zebrafish project under Dr. Oleg Shchelochkov. I thoroughly enjoyed my post-bac experience. Looking back on the past 2 years, I feel the lab, and in particular the mentorship of Dr. Shchelochkov, has facilitated and nurtured my growth as a future physician-scientist with roots in propionic acidemia research. In 2019 I applied to MD/PhD programs at several US universities. After having traveled to over half a dozen states and interviewing at many fantastic universities, I ultimately decided upon the physician-scientist training program at University of Minnesota. As I plan my transition to the program, I am currently looking for winter coats.


SIMD 2018

PAF Exhibits at the 40th Annual SIMD Meeting – March 11 -14, 2018,  San Diego, CA

Jill Chertow represented PAF and the PA Community at the 40th Annual Society of Inherited Metabolic Disorders (SIMD) on March 11-14th in San Diego, California.   PAF partnered with the National Urea Cycle Disorders Foundation (NUCDF) on our exhibit booth to educate providers about hyperammonemia. PAF’s goal was also to network with PAF clinicians and attract researchers to collaborate with PAF on studies for PA .   The meeting was a great opportunity to hear about new research in metabolic disorders, newborn screening updates and issues about access and cost of drug therapies. Elaina Jurecki, M.S., R.D. presented on “Protein Intake Recommendations for Propionic Acidemia in the Evidence-based SERN-GMDI  Management Guidelines.”  Nutrition guidelines continue to be a hot topic.  Interesting poster topics included the use of medical food, liver transplant, and anaplerotic therapy.

During the breaks and meals there was time to network with physicians, dietitians, researchers, medical food providers, advocacy groups, and industry.     There is hope for a number of potential new therapies in mRNA, gene therapy, enzyme replacement therapy and/or new medications for the first time.

Liver Transplantation for Propionic Acidemia: FAQ

Liver Transplantation for Propionic Acidemia:

Part 1 – Answers to Questions that Families May Have

James Squires, MD, MS

Dr. James Squires

Dr. Squires is a liver disease specialist at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Jodie M. Vento, MGC, LCGC

Jodie Vento is a genetic counselor and manager of the Center for Rare Disease Therapy at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

What can we expect that a liver transplant could do for our child?

Based on experience to date with liver transplants in children with Propionic Acidemia (PA),we can say that after a liver transplant,children are likely to have a substantially better quality of life and a dramatic reduction in metabolic crises. It’s important for families to understand, however, that liver transplantation is not a cure for PA. This is because the enzyme deficiency that causes PA exists throughout the body, not just in the liver.

The liver transplant serves as what we liver specialists call a bulk enzyme replacement, providing enough functional enzyme to minimize – if not eliminate –metabolic crises, which are the most severe complications of PA for affected children as well as one of the most frightening features of the disease for families.

Because complications related to PA may still occur following a transplant, there will be a continued need for your child to get follow-up care with one or more medical specialists.


Is there a minimum or “best” age for a child with PA to have a liver transplant?

There is no minimum or “best” age. At our center, the average age of a liver transplant for a child with PA is about seven years old, but we have performed transplants in children as young as one year old.

The best time to consider a liver transplant is while the symptoms of PA are still reasonably well controlled. There is also no minimum age for undergoing a pre-transplant evaluation or being placed on the transplant waiting list.

What should we consider when deciding where to take our child for a liver transplant evaluation?

The most important factor to consider is the experience of the surgical team performing liver transplants in patients with PA and other metabolic diseases. These patients have complex needs that are different from those of patients receiving liver transplants for other conditions.

The pediatric liver transplantation program at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC was established in 1981 by world-renowned transplant surgeon Thomas E. Starzl, MD, PhD. Our t Director of Pediatric Transplantation, George Mazariegos, MD, FACS, pioneered liver transplantation for children with metabolic diseases in 2004. Since that time, Children’s Hospital has performed more than 330 liver transplants for children with metabolic disease,more than any other transplant center.

We’ve also performed more liver transplants in children than any other center in the United States and more living-donor transplants than any other pediatric center in the country. Our one-year survival rate for pediatric liver transplant patients is 98%, exceeding the national average of 95%, according to the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients, Jan. 2018 release.

In addition to our world-renowned and experienced liver transplant surgeons, our Center for Rare Disease Therapy includes international experts in the diagnosis and treatment of PA and other metabolic diseases.

How would we start the process of having our child evaluated for a liver transplant?

I can tell you how the process works here at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. It starts with a referral from your doctor or hospital requesting that we evaluate your child. We also receive self-referrals directly from interested families. We will ask the doctor or hospital, or both, to send us all of your child’s medical records.

We will look at the records carefully to help us understand your child’s medical history and current situation. This information helps our multidisciplinary team develop an individualized plan for your child’s evaluation visit. For example, if your child has recently had certain laboratory or imaging tests done, we won’t repeat those tests unless there’s a valid medical reason for doing so. Understanding how the disease is affecting your child helps us identify which specialists your child should see during the evaluation.

It’s important for families to know that undergoing a pre-transplant evaluation involves no commitment on either side. It carries no guarantee that your child will be listed for a transplant or, conversely, any requirement that you must agree to have your child placed on the transplant waiting list. We can answer questions, provide information, and make recommendations. Ultimately, however, the decision to proceed with a transplant, or not, is a personal one for each family to make.

The evaluation is an opportunity for the family and the health care team to meet and get to know each other, as well as for the family to gather information and get answers to any and all questions you may have. We hope you’ll feel comfortable raising any concerns. Please don’t hesitate to ask us about any issue that’s on your mind. There are no dumb or silly questions. And, of course, if after you’ve gone home you think of something that you wish you had asked, please give us a call.

You can expect that the evaluation will be a two- or three-day event. The staff of our Center for Rare Disease Therapy will work with you to arrange for you, your child, and other family members to stay near the hospital, either at our Ronald McDonald house or at a nearby hotel, while you’re here for the evaluation.

We’ll send you a schedule in advance of your visit. This will tell you which medical and surgical specialists you’ll be seeing at what times and what laboratory or imaging tests we would like your child to have during the evaluation. To the extent possible, we try to anticipate all the testing we’ll need so that it’s a relatively smooth process while you’re here.

Please tell us more about what we can expect during our child’s evaluation.

Because PA is a genetic disease, the specialists you’ll see will likely include a medical geneticist and a metabolic dietician. Also, because PA often causes heart problems, your child’s evaluation is likely to include basic heart function tests and an assessment by a cardiologist. Depending on how the disease is affecting your child, the evaluation may also include visits with specialists such as the following:

  •         A neurologist, to assess brain function
  •         A gastroenterologist, to assess pancreas function
  •         A hematologist, to assess bone marrow function

Although we try to anticipate all the testing we’ll need and schedule it in advance, sometimes we may decide that it would be helpful to do an additional test that wasn’t originally on the schedule. For example, depending on the results of the basic heart function tests, the cardiologist might want to do a “stress test” that will provide more detailed information and measurements relating to how well your child’s heart is functioning.


If we decide to go ahead with listing our child for a transplant, what are our options for obtaining a donor liver? How long can we expect it to take to find a compatible donor?

PA is considered a high-priority condition for liver transplantation, so your child’s name will be near the top of the waiting list. However, because demand for donor livers is high and supply is limited, I tell families to be prepared to be on the waiting list for several months.

With any liver transplant, careful testing needs to be done to ensure compatibility of the donor liver and the transplant recipient.Many factors can influence the waiting time for a compatible organ. For example, a child with an uncommon blood type may face a longer wait.

In general, child-size donor livers are scarce. A unique feature of the liver, however, is that it is the only organ in the human body that can regrow. This means that in some cases it’s possible to transplant a section of a healthy liver rather than the whole organ. For example, a child who needs a liver transplant may receive a section of a liver from an adult donor. You may hear this type of transplant referred to as a “reduced-size” or “split” liver transplant.

Another type of liver transplant involves a living person – such as a relative, friend, or even a stranger – donating a section of their liver to someone who needs a transplant. Living-donor transplants may be an option for some children with PA. However, because PA is a genetic disease, parents and possibly siblings may be carriers of one of the genetic defects that cause the disease. Someone who is a carrier would not be a suitable living donor.

The good news is that children who receive a partial liver seem to do just as well as those who receive a whole liver. All of the options for obtaining a donor liver, including a reduced-size, split, or living-donor transplant, are discussed during the pre-transplant evaluation.

We’ve decided that a liver transplant is right for our child. What are the next steps?

When your child’s name is placed on the liver transplant waiting list, we will give you a pager that you will need to take with you everywhere you go so that we can reach you right away when we get a call that a matching donor liver is available. We don’t know when that call will come, but when it does you’ll need to be able to get to Children’s Hospital in a safe, but timely fashion. The transplant team will work with you to establish a ‘travel plan’ for you and your family for when the transplant is likely to occur.

While your child is on the waiting list, our specialists will work with your local doctors to care for your child and optimize their medical condition ahead of the transplant.

We know that waiting can be a difficult time for families. Your transplant coordinator is always available to respond to your questions and concerns and can also help you make travel arrangements.

Once you arrive at the hospital, preparations for the transplant may take from 12 to 24 hours. Your child will undergo another round of tests to confirm that the donor liver is a good match. Your child will also need to fast before surgery. Our metabolic dieticians will help us prepare intravenous fluids to provide your child with an individualized balance of fats, protein, and glucose to maintain stability while they can’t take anything by mouth.

The liver transplantation surgery may take up to several hours, although this varies in each case. While your child is in the operating room, a member of the transplant team will keep you informed on the progress of the transplant.

After the surgery, your child will go to the intensive care unit to be monitored closely until their condition is stable. Then your child will be moved to the liver transplant unit. Staff here will help you learn about your child’s medications, diet, need for follow-up care, and anything else you’ll need to know to care for your child.

After the transplant, will our child have to take anti-rejection medication?

After a liver transplant, you should expect that your child will need to take medication for the rest of his or her life to prevent organ rejection. The body’s normal reaction to a transplanted organ is to recognize it as a “foreign agent” and mount an immune response against the new liver. Anti-rejection medications suppress the immune system, which is the body’s defense system against illness and infection, to prevent it from attacking the new liver.

Because anti-rejection medications weaken the immune system, your child may be more likely to get infections – and those infections will be harder to treat. You will need to notify the transplant team at the first sign of an infection, such as a fever, chills, sweats, coughing, nasal congestion, diarrhea, redness or swelling, pain, or vomiting. A referral to a doctor may be needed as well.

With immune-suppressing medications, the goal is to find a treatment plan that achieves the needed degree of immune suppression while causing the fewest and least harmful side effects. Regular blood tests will help your child’s doctors monitor the medications’ effectiveness.

The risk of organ rejection declines over time. This means that in time your child should be able to take lower doses of anti-rejection medications. Most likely, however, he or she will need to continue taking at least a low dose of immune-suppressing medication lifelong.

Here at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and elsewhere, research is underway to learn more about whether some liver transplants patients can eventually stop taking immune-suppressing medication without increasing their risk for rejection of the transplanted organ. This research is a long-term effort, however, and it will be years before we can answer this question.

For more information, please visit: or call (412) 692-RARE (7273)

In Part 2 of this article, Dr. Squires will summarize the findings of a recent study of outcomes in children with PA and methylmalonic acidemia who received liver transplants at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

2017 Warrior Wisdom Conference Welcome


The Propionic Acidemia Foundation invites you to join us at the 2017 Warrior Wisdom Conference in Deerfield, Illinois to be held at the Hyatt Regency Deerfield from June 8th – 10th, 2017.  You will hear from physicians and researchers about propionic acidemia and have the opportunity to learn more in small breakout sessions of your choice. Take this opportunity to learn about current studies on propionic acidemia and how you can participate and move us forward in finding better treatments and cure.  As always, there will be ample time for networking.   Children will have fun with our volunteers and make new friends.   Healthcare providers and researchers will have the opportunity to learn more about PA and meet the families they are striving to help.

For sponsorship information e-mail [email protected]

A Heart Felt Thank You to our Conference Sponsors

Platinum Sponsors 

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Gold Sponsor

Recordati Rare Diseases

Silver Sponsor

Cambrooke Therapeutics

Supporting Sponsors


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