Myopathy in Williams-Beuren syndrome

Eur J Pediatr. 1991 May;150(7):521-6. doi: 10.1007/BF01958438.


Williams-Beuren syndrome (WBS) is a disorder of unknown aetiology. The classical features of the syndrome include a typical ('elfin') facies, mental retardation and heart defects. Myopathy has not so far been part of the spectrum of WBS. We studied six patients with WBS aged 3-25 years, five of whom showed clinical and morphological evidence of myopathy. The clinical manifestations of myopathy included hypotonia in infancy, walking delay, joint contractures, scoliosis, and increased exhaustion on exertion. These symptoms were present in variable expression but part of a typical postural pattern. Examination of muscle biopsies showed lipid storage in four patients and increased variability of fibre size in three. In one patient a muscle biopsy gave normal results. Biochemical investigation in four patients with morphological evidence of lipid storage in muscle revealed muscle carnitine deficiency in three. In addition, enzyme activities of fatty acid beta-oxidation were low in one of two specimens tested. It is concluded that a clinically relevant myopathy is part of the multi-system manifestation of WBS and a clinical trial of carnitine supplementation is justified.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biopsy
  • Carnitine / urine
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Contracture
  • Face / abnormalities*
  • Female
  • Heart Defects, Congenital*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intellectual Disability*
  • Male
  • Muscular Diseases* / pathology
  • Muscular Diseases* / urine
  • Posture
  • Syndrome


  • Carnitine