Biochemical medicine and metabolic biology

Assay of acyl-CoA dehydrogenase activity in frozen muscle biopsies: application to medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency.

PMID 8347379


The acyl-CoA dehydrogenases (ACDs) are mitochondrial enzymes that dehydrogenate acyl-coenzyme A esters of different chain lengths. Inherited deficiencies of these dehydrogenases are commonly associated with muscle weakness and lipid storage. Numerous assays including spectrophotometric, fluorometric, chemical, and radiochemical procedures have been used, but there is need for a rapid, reproducible assay for the different acyl-CoA dehydrogenases in small frozen samples of human muscle biopsies. We describe a comparative study of dye-linked spectrophotometric assays of the long, medium, and short chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenases in frozen rat and human muscle samples. An optimal procedure is described confirming the value of glass-glass homogenization and assay of a 600g supernatant. Higher activities for all acyl-CoA dehydrogenases, citrate synthase, and cytochrome c oxidase were obtained in rat in contrast to human. The substrate-linked dye reduction method was found superior to the ferricenium or electron transfer flavoprotein acceptor systems. Application of the phenazine ethosulfate-DCPIP-linked method to medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase (MCAD) was studied in detail and the effect of immunoprecipitation of MCAD allowed for the determination of substrate specificity and the degree of crossover between long-, medium-, and short-chain ACD activity following immunoprecipitation. Finally, a comparison of the specificity and validity of the assay in a patient with MCAD deficiency was performed.