[Diagnosis and care of Wilson disease with neurological revelation]

Arch Pediatr. 2012 Mar;19(3):271-6. doi: 10.1016/j.arcped.2011.12.009. Epub 2012 Jan 18.
[Article in French]


Wilson disease is an autosomal recessive disease that produces a copper accumulation in many organs, initially in the liver, progressing to liver cirrhosis, and in the brain, with different neurologic symptoms. Diagnosis is based on clinical, biochemical, and genetic tests. Different treatments based on chelating agents may help reduce the disease's spontaneous morbidity and mortality. We describe three patients who presented Wilson disease before 18 years of age, with initial neurologic symptoms between 1998 and 2010. After comparison with literature reports, their clinical symptoms, progression, and care allowed us to propose a treatment algorithm. Neurologic symptoms are present in 35% of the patients with Wilson disease such as dystonia, extrapyramidal syndrome, dysarthria, dysphagia, and psychiatric symptoms. The time to diagnosis remains too long and may account for the increased severity of the illness encountered and problems treating these patients. The first treatment choice must be triethylenetetramine, which causes fewer side effects of initial worsening of symptoms compared to D-penicillamine. Zinc therapy is the first treatment for asymptomatic patients or those on maintenance treatment. Finally, liver transplantation is a potential treatment even if the patient presents severe neurological disability because it may improve clinical symptoms. However, further research is warranted on this matter.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Brain / pathology
  • Chelating Agents / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Hepatolenticular Degeneration / diagnosis*
  • Hepatolenticular Degeneration / genetics
  • Hepatolenticular Degeneration / therapy
  • Humans
  • Liver Transplantation
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Nervous System Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Nervous System Diseases / genetics
  • Neurologic Examination*
  • Penicillamine / therapeutic use
  • Trientine / therapeutic use
  • Zinc / therapeutic use


  • Chelating Agents
  • Penicillamine
  • Zinc
  • Trientine