A severely affected case of Hartnup disease is reported, where the patient responded rapidly to nicotinamide. This supports the view that all the clinical features, except reduced stature from general nutritional defect, are secondary to tryptophan and nicotinamide deficiency rather than to an unknown toxic factor. Severe malabsorption of both tryptophan and phenylalanine was demonstrated. The dipeptide carnosine was absorbed normally whereas when the two constituent amino acids, β-alanine and L-histidine, were ingested, absorption of the former was normal but that of the latter was grossly defective. The suggestion is advanced that in cases of Hartnup disease protein nutrition is maintained by intestinal uptake of amino acids as oligopeptides rather than as free amino acids. By contrast, both modes of absorption are probably important in normal subjects. Radiology of the small intestine is abnormal in Hartnup disease when a large amount of protein is admixed with the barium meal.
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