Hypophosphatasia: Biochemical hallmarks validate the expanded pediatric clinical nosology

Michael P. Whyte, Stephen P. Coburn, Lawrence M. Ryan, Karen L. Ericson, Fan Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Hypophosphatasia (HPP) is the inborn-error-of-metabolism due to loss-of-function mutation(s) of the ALPL (TNSALP) gene that encodes the tissue non-specific isoenzyme of alkaline phosphatase (TNSALP). TNSALP represents a family of cell-surface phosphohydrolases differing by post-translational modification that is expressed especially in the skeleton, liver, kidney, and developing teeth. Thus, the natural substrates of TNSALP accumulate extracellularly in HPP including inorganic pyrophosphate (PPi), a potent inhibitor of mineralization, and pyridoxal 5′-phosphate (PLP), the principal circulating form of vitamin B6. The superabundance of extracellular PPi regularly causes tooth loss, and when sufficiently great can lead to rickets or osteomalacia. Sometimes diminished hydrolysis of PLP engenders vitamin B6-dependent seizures in profoundly affected babies. Autosomal dominant and autosomal recessive inheritance from among >340 ALPL mutations identified to date, typically missense and located throughout the gene, largely explains the remarkably wide-ranging severity of HPP, greatest of all skeletal diseases. In 2015, our demographic, clinical, and DXA findings acquired over 25 years from 173 children and adolescents with HPP validated and expanded the clinical nosology for pediatric patients to include according to increasing severity “odonto” HPP, “mild childhood” HPP, “severe childhood” HPP, “infantile” HPP, and “perinatal” HPP. Herein, we assessed this expanded nosology using biochemical hallmarks of HPP. We evaluated exclusively data from the 165 preteenage HPP patients in this cohort to exclude potential effects from physiological changes in TNSALP levels across puberty. All patients had subnormal serum total and bone-specific ALP and elevated plasma PLP, and nearly all had excessive urinary PPi excretion. Only the PLP levels were unchanged across puberty. Mean levels of all four biomarkers correlated with HPP severity ranked according to the HPP nosology, but the data overlapped among all four patient groups. Hence, these four biochemical hallmarks represent both a sensitive and reliable tool for diagnosing children with HPP. Furthermore, the hallmarks validate our expanded clinical nosology for pediatric HPP that, with limitations, is an improved framework for conceptualizing and working with this disorder's remarkably broad-ranging severity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-106
Number of pages11
StatePublished - May 2018


  • Alkaline phosphatase
  • Biomarkers
  • Bone
  • Enzymopathy
  • Inborn-error-of-metabolism
  • Inorganic pyrophosphate
  • Mineralization
  • Pyridoxal phosphate
  • Rickets
  • Vitamin B


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