Hypophosphatasia: Nonlethal disease despite skeletal presentation in utero (17 new cases and literature review)

Deborah Wenkert, William H. McAlister, Stephen P. Coburn, Janice A. Zerega, Lawrence M. Ryan, Karen L. Ericson, Joseph H. Hersh, Steven Mumm, Michael P. Whyte

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


Hypophosphatasia (HPP) is caused by deactivating mutation(s) within the gene that encodes the tissue-nonspecific isoenzyme of alkaline phosphatase (TNSALP). Patients manifest rickets or osteomalacia and dental disease ranging from absence of skeletal mineralization in utero to only loss of adult dentition. Until recently, HPP skeletal disease in utero was thought to always predict a lethal outcome. However, several reports beginning in 1999 emphasized a benign prenatal form of HPP (BP-HPP) where skeletal disease detected in utero had a mild postnatal course. Here we describe prenatal and postnatal findings of 17 additional BP-HPP patients among our 178 pediatric HPP patients. Their findings are compared with those of their siblings with HPP, carrier parents, and others with identical TNSALP mutations. New information concerning 7 previously published BP-HPP patients accompanies a review of the HPP literature. Among our 17 BP-HPP patients, prenatal ultrasound showed normal chest or abdominal circumferences where recorded. Sometimes, poor skeletal mineralization, fetal crowding, and third-trimester improvement were observed. Postnatally, extremity bowing further improved (13 patients). BP-HPP severity postnatally spanned the "infantile" to "odonto" HPP phenotypes, resembling our patients who harbored identical TNSALP mutation(s). Eight had autosomal dominant (AD) and 9 had autosomal recessive (AR) BP-HPP. Fourteen of our 15 mothers were HPP carriers or affected. Of the 41 cumulative BP-HPP patients (24 literature cases meriting a BP-HPP diagnosis since 1996 plus our 17 patients), 63% had AR BP-HPP. Maternally transmitted HPP involved 11 of the 13 total AD BP-HPP probands (p=0.01), supporting a maternal in utero effect on the baby. Fetal crowding, normal fetal mineralization and chest size, and TNSALP heterozygosity seem to identify BP-HPP. However, bowed fetal long bones with AR HPP, specific TNSALP mutations, or poor skeletal mineralization before the third trimester do not reliably diagnose HPP lethality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2389-2398
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Bone and Mineral Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2011


  • alkaline phosphatase
  • metabolic bone disease
  • prenatal diagnosis
  • rickets
  • skeletal dysplasia


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