Severe perinatal liver disease and Down syndrome: an apparent relationship

Hum Pathol. 1991 Dec;22(12):1274-80. doi: 10.1016/0046-8177(91)90111-2.


Down syndrome (DS) is not usually thought of in association with significant infantile liver disease. We present clinical and histopathologic data from 10 patients with DS who presented with severe liver disease at birth or within the first few weeks of life, and summarize the findings of eight previously reported cases. The liver disease was fatal in all but one case. Diffuse lobular fibrosis surrounding proliferating ductular elements and residual hepatocytes characterized the pathologic findings in the liver in all patients. A large number of megakaryocytes were present in the liver in nine of 12 patients. The phenotype of "perinatal hemochromatosis" was documented in eight of nine cases in which the presence of iron was investigated. Since only a fraction of the patients with this phenotype have DS, the patients we describe seem to represent a relatively well-defined subset of the perinatal hemochromatosis phenotype. The existence of such a subset suggests that the perinatal hemochromatosis phenotype does not represent a single etiopathogenetic disorder. The association between DS, megakaryocytic infiltrates in the liver, and fatal subacute/chronic liver disease gives rise to the speculation that fibrosis-promoting factors and/or metabolic abnormalities, such as those resulting from a gene dosage effect, may play a role in the genesis of the liver disease, perhaps due to a particular susceptibility of fetal liver.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Down Syndrome / complications*
  • Down Syndrome / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Liver Diseases / complications*
  • Liver Diseases / congenital
  • Liver Diseases / pathology*
  • Male