Vitamin B6 (vitB6) is a generic term that comprises six interconvertible pyridine compounds. These vitB6 compounds (also called vitamers) are pyridoxine (PN), pyridoxamine (PM), pyridoxal (PL) and their 5′-phosphorylated forms pyridoxine 5′-phosphate (PNP), pyridoxamine 5′-phosphate (PMP) and pyridoxal 5′-phosphate (PLP). VitB6 is an essential nutrient for all living organisms, but only microorganisms and plants can carry out de novo synthesis of this vitamin. Other organisms obtain vitB6 from dietary sources and interconvert its different forms according to their needs via a biochemical pathway known as the salvage pathway. PLP is the biologically active form of vitB6 which is important for maintaining the biochemical homeostasis of the body. In the human body, PLP serves as a cofactor for more than 140 enzymatic reactions, mainly associated with synthesis, degradation and interconversion of amino acids and neurotransmitter metabolism. PLP-dependent enzymes are also involved in various physiological processes, including biologically active amine biosynthesis, lipid metabolism, heme synthesis, nucleic acid synthesis, protein and polyamine synthesis and several other metabolic pathways. PLP is an important vitamer for normal brain function since it is required as a coenzyme for the synthesis of several neurotransmitters including D-serine, D-aspartate, L-glutamate, glycine, γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), serotonin, epinephrine, norepinephrine, histamine and dopamine. Intracellular levels of PLP are tightly regulated and conditions that disrupt this homeostatic regulation can cause disease. In humans, genetic and dietary (intake of high doses of vitB6) conditions leading to increase in PLP levels is known to cause motor and sensory neuropathies. Deficiency of PLP in the cell is also implicated in several diseases, the most notable example of which are the vitB6-dependent epileptic encephalopathies. VitB6-dependent epileptic encephalopathies (B6EEs) are a clinically and genetically heterogeneous group of rare inherited metabolic disorders. These debilitating conditions are characterized by recurrent seizures in the prenatal, neonatal, or postnatal period, which are typically resistant to conventional anticonvulsant treatment but are well-controlled by the administration of PN or PLP. In addition to seizures, children affected with B6EEs may also suffer from developmental and/or intellectual disabilities, along with structural brain abnormalities. Five main types of B6EEs are known to date, these are: PN-dependent epilepsy due to ALDH7A1 (antiquitin) deficiency (PDE-ALDH7A1) (MIM: 266100), hyperprolinemia type 2 (MIM: 239500), PLP-dependent epilepsy due to PNPO deficiency (MIM: 610090), hypophosphatasia (MIM: 241500) and PLPBP deficiency (MIM: 617290). This chapter provides a review of vitB6 and its different vitamers, their absorption and metabolic pathways in the human body, the diverse physiological roles of vitB6, PLP homeostasis and its importance for human health. Finally, the chapter reviews the inherited neurological disorders affecting PLP homeostasis with a special focus on vitB6-dependent epileptic encephalopathies (B6EEs), their different subtypes, the pathophysiological mechanism underlying each type, clinical and biochemical features and current treatment strategies.
Part of the book: B-Complex Vitamins