Genetics of pediatric renal tumors

Pediatr Nephrol. 2013 Jan;28(1):13-23. doi: 10.1007/s00467-012-2146-4. Epub 2012 Mar 30.


Wilms tumor (WT) accounts for approximately 95 % of all pediatric renal tumors, with a peak incidence between 2 and 3 years of age. It occurs in sporadic and congenital forms, the latter often occurring before 1 year of age. Incidence declines with age, and WT rarely is observed in adults. WT is an embryonal tumor of the kidney caused by aberrant proliferation of early metanephric kidney cells. It can arise from more than one developmental error and therefore several subtypes can be defined. WT1, a zinc-finger transcription factor, was identified as the first WT gene. Other genes frequently altered somatically in subsets of WT are CTNNB1 and WTX; both genes influence the Wnt signalling pathway. Imprinting alterations of genes in 11p15 are also observed in a subset of WTs. Other pediatric renal tumors occur less often, e.g. malignant rhabdoid tumor of the kidney, clear-cell sarcoma, desmoplastic small-round-cell tumors, congenital mesoblastic nephroma, renal cell carcinoma of childhood, renal primitive neuroectodermal tumors, renal medullary carcinoma, and synovial sarcoma of the kidney. In most of these, characteristic genetic alterations have been identified that help in the unequivocal diagnosis of these childhood renal cancers that are often difficult to distinguish.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Genes, Wilms Tumor*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Wilms Tumor / genetics*