Friday, June 30, 2017

An Under Recognised Cause of Metabolic Acidosis

The MUDPALES mnemonic for raised anion gap acidosis was drilled into me from medical school.  However recently after working through each category I became stumped when nothing ticked the box to identify the cause. 
The lady I had been asked to see was in her 80s and had fractured her hip.  On admission she had normal renal function and acid base status.  Post-operatively she was started on regular analgesia including paracetamol (acetaminophen) and developed a Staphlococcus Aureus wound cellulitis treated with flucloxacillin.  Over the following 2 weeks she developed a raised anion gap acidosis and positive urinary anion gap.  Renal function, lactate and ketones were normal.    
A cause of metabolic acidosis not in MUDPILES is pyroglutamic acidosis.  Pyroglutamic acid (also called 5-oxoproline) is a by-product in the gamma-glutamyl cycle.  This pathway is involved in the synthesis of glutathione, and is shown above from a recent paper.
Glutathione provides negative feedback on the cycle by inhibiting the enzyme gamma-glutamyl-cysteine synthase.  An acquired deficiency in glutathione, as with alcohol or paracetamol, results in loss of this negative feedback and increased production of 5-oxoproline leading to a metabolic acidosis.  Other drugs affect the cycle at different points including flucloxacillin which inhibits 5-oxoprolinase similarly resulting in build-up of 5-oxoproline. 
Urine amino acid screens show high levels of 5-oxoproline, though this test is not always available.  Our patient improved with withdrawal of paracetamol and flucloxacillin and oral bicarbonate which was stopped after a week.  Some cases have been treated with N-acetylcysteine to replenish glutathione levels. 
I think this is probably an under-recognised cause of metabolic acidosis with many of the risk factors being prevalent in our inpatients (poor nutrition, chronic alcohol use, renal failure, infection, paracetamol use).  A different mnemonic for causes of raised anion gap metabolic acidosis may be helpful like GOLD MARK:
·         G – glycols (ethylene and propylene)
·         O – 5-oxoproline (pyroglutamic acid)
·         L – L-lactate
·         D – D-lactate
·         M – methanol, ethanol
·         A – aspirin/salicylates
·         R – renal failure
K – ketones 

Post by Ailish Nimmo

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