Imerslund-Gräsbeck syndrome (selective vitamin B(12) malabsorption with proteinuria)

Orphanet J Rare Dis. 2006 May 19;1:17. doi: 10.1186/1750-1172-1-17.


Imerslund-Gräsbeck syndrome (IGS) or selective vitamin B(12) (cobalamin) malabsorption with proteinuria is a rare autosomal recessive disorder characterized by vitamin B(12) deficiency commonly resulting in megaloblastic anemia, which is responsive to parenteral vitamin B(12) therapy and appears in childhood. Other manifestations include failure to thrive and grow, infections and neurological damage. Mild proteinuria (with no signs of kidney disease) is present in about half of the patients. Anatomical anomalies in the urinary tract were observed in some Norwegian patients. Vitamin B(12) absorption tests show low absorption, not corrected by administration of intrinsic factor. The symptoms appear from 4 months (not immediately after birth as in transcobalamin deficiency) up to several years after birth. The syndrome was first described in Finland and Norway where the prevalence is about 1:200,000. The cause is a defect in the receptor of the vitamin B(12)-intrinsic factor complex of the ileal enterocyte. In most cases, the molecular basis of the selective malabsorption and proteinuria involves a mutation in one of two genes, cubilin (CUBN) on chromosome 10 or amnionless (AMN) on chromosome 14. Both proteins are components of the intestinal receptor for the vitamin B(12)-intrinsic factor complex and the receptor mediating the tubular reabsorption of protein from the primary urine. Management includes life-long vitamin B(12) injections, and with this regimen, the patients stay healthy for decades. However, the proteinuria persists. In diagnosing this disease, it is important to be aware that cobalamin deficiency affects enterocyte function; therefore, all tests suggesting general and cobalamin malabsorption should be repeated after abolishment of the deficiency.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anemia, Megaloblastic / diagnosis*
  • Anemia, Megaloblastic / epidemiology
  • Anemia, Megaloblastic / genetics
  • Anemia, Megaloblastic / therapy
  • Animals
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Dogs
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Malabsorption Syndromes / diagnosis*
  • Malabsorption Syndromes / epidemiology
  • Malabsorption Syndromes / genetics
  • Malabsorption Syndromes / therapy
  • Models, Animal
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Proteinuria / diagnosis*
  • Proteinuria / epidemiology
  • Proteinuria / genetics
  • Proteinuria / therapy
  • Rare Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Rare Diseases / epidemiology
  • Rare Diseases / physiopathology
  • Rare Diseases / therapy
  • Syndrome
  • Vitamin B 12 / therapeutic use
  • Vitamin B 12 Deficiency / diagnosis*
  • Vitamin B 12 Deficiency / epidemiology
  • Vitamin B 12 Deficiency / genetics
  • Vitamin B 12 Deficiency / physiopathology
  • Vitamin B 12 Deficiency / therapy


  • Vitamin B 12