Vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome

Ann Genet. Jan-Mar 2004;47(1):1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.anngen.2003.07.002.


Vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, also known as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome type IV, is a life-threatening inherited disorder of connective tissue, resulting from mutations in the COL3A1 gene coding for type III procollagen. Vascular EDS causes severe fragility of connective tissues with arterial and gastrointestinal rupture, and complications of surgical and radiological interventions. As for many rare orphan diseases, delay in diagnosis is common, even when the clinical features are typical, leading to inadequate or inappropriate treatment and management. In childhood many individuals with vascular EDS are first thought to have coagulation disorders. In adulthood, four main clinical findings, including a striking facial appearance, easy bruising, translucent skin with visible veins and rupture of vessels, gravid uterus or intestines, contribute to the diagnosis, which can be confirmed by SDS-PAGE studies of type III procollagen molecules synthesis by cultured fibroblasts or by the identification of a mutation in the COL3A1 gene coding for type III procollagen. Vascular EDS is inherited as an autosomal dominant trait. Varied molecular mechanisms have been observed and, of the mutations described to date, most have been unique to each family or "private", with no correlation between genotype and phenotype. Vascular EDS is of particular importance to surgeons, radiologists, obstetricians and geneticists since, although there is currently no specific treatment for the condition, knowledge of the diagnosis may help in the management of visceral complications, pregnancy and genetic counseling.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Collagen Type III / genetics
  • Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome / complications
  • Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome / genetics
  • Female
  • Genetic Counseling
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Vascular Diseases / complications


  • COL3A1 protein, human
  • Collagen Type III