Infantile hypophosphatasia: Autosomal recessive transmission to two related sibships

C. A. Moore, J. C. Ward, M. L. Rivas, H. L. Magill, M. P. Whyte

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Hypophosphatasia, a rare heritable form of rickets/osteomalacia, is characterized by deficient activity of the tissue nonspecific (liver/bone/kidney) isoenzyme of alkaline phosphatase (ALP). Signs may be present prenatally or not until late adult life. Although the infantile form of hypophosphatasia has usually been categorized as an autosomal recessive (AR) disorder, several studies suggest that childhood cases are the consequence of either AR or autosomal dominant (AD) inheritance and adult cases are primarily AD. Eastman and Bixler (J Craniofac Genet Dev Biol 3:213-234, 1983) propose that all cases of hypophosphatasia may reflect AD inheritance wih 85% penetrance and homozygous lethality. We report on 3 patients with hypophosphatasia in a black family, first manifested clinically during infancy, where the pattern of inheritance for each is consistent wih AR transmission. Two were brothers who died from the disorder. The other patient, a cousin, presented with classic stigmata of hypophosphatasia during infancy, but is now age 5 1/2 years and has had a much milder clinical course. Although consanguinity is absent, the maternal grandmothers are sibs as are the maternal grandfathers and the paternal grandmothers. The family history is other negative for skeletal or dental disease. Laboratory and radiographic results are consistent with heterozygosity in each parent. Fibroblast ALP activity is <1% normal in all 3 patients with no complementation observed in heterokaryon analysis. Accordingly, the genetic defects appear to be identical in all 3 patients. Our findings show that infantile hypophosphatasia may be inherited as an AR condition where there is variable expressivity and that homozygosity or compound heterozygosity, as may be the case in this family, is not necessarily lethal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-22
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of medical genetics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1990


  • alkaline phosphatase
  • bone disease
  • pyridoxal-5'-phosphate
  • rickets


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