Hypophosphatasia and the extracellular metabolism of inorganic pyrophosphate: Clinical and laboratory aspects

Alison M. Caswell, Michael P. Whyte, R. Graham G. Russell

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Hypophosphatasia is a rare inherited disorder in which the activity of the bone/liver/kidney or tissue nonspecific form of alkaline phosphatase (ALP) is reduced. The clinical expression of the disease is highly variable, but in early life the severity tends to reflect the age of onset. Accordingly, the disease is often classified into perinatal, infantile, and childhood forms. Hypophosphatasia also occurs in adults. Some exhibit symptoms in adulthood for the first time, but others have a history of the disease in early life with an intervening symptom-free period. Defective mineralization of bones and teeth is the predominant clinical feature of all forms of the disease. Biochemically, the reduction in ALP activity is associated with alterations in the extracellular metabolism of various phosphorylated compounds, including inorganic pyrophosphate (PPi), phosphoethanolamine, and pyridoxal 5's-phosphate. Of these, PPi may have an especially important role in the development of the mineralization defect. Accordingly, the extracellular metabolism of PPi and its possible role in the regulation of mineralization will be discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-232
Number of pages38
JournalCritical Reviews in Clinical Laboratory Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1991


  • Alkaline phosphatase
  • Hypophoshatasia
  • Inorganic pyrophosphate
  • Mineralization


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