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Semin Liver Dis. 2000;20(3):353-64.

Wilson's disease.

Author information

1
Edward Mallinckrodt Department of Pediatrics, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, USA.

Abstract

Wilson's disease is an autosomal recessive disorder of copper metabolism resulting from the absence or dysfunction of a copper transporting P-type ATPase encoded on chromosome 13. This ATPase is expressed in hepatocytes where it is localized to the trans-Golgi network and transports copper into the secretory pathway for incorporation into ceruloplasmin and excretion into the bile. Under physiologic circumstances, biliary excretion represents the sole mechanism for copper excretion, and thus affected individuals have progressive copper accumulation in the liver. When the capacity for hepatic storage is exceeded, cell death ensues with copper release into the plasma, hemolysis, and tissue deposition. Presentation in childhood may include chronic hepatitis, asymptomatic cirrhosis, or acute liver failure. In young adults, neuropsychiatric symptoms predominate and include dystonia, tremor, personality changes, and cognitive impairments secondary to copper accumulation in the central nervous system. The laboratory diagnosis of Wilson's disease is confirmed by decreased serum ceruloplasmin, increased urinary copper content, and elevated hepatic copper concentration. Molecular genetic analysis is complex as more than 100 unique mutations have been identified and most individuals are compound heterozygotes. Copper chelation with penicillamine is an effective therapy in most patients and hepatic transplantation is curative in individuals presenting with irreversible liver failure. Elucidation of the molecular genetic basis of Wilson's disease has permitted new insights into the mechanisms of cellular copper homeostasis.

PMID:
11076401
DOI:
10.1055/s-2000-9389
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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