Chromosomal and related Mendelian syndromes associated with Hirschsprung's disease

Pediatr Surg Int. 2012 Nov;28(11):1045-58. doi: 10.1007/s00383-012-3175-6. Epub 2012 Sep 23.


Hirschsprung's disease (HSCR) is a fairly frequent cause of intestinal obstruction in children. It is characterized as a sex-linked heterogonous disorder with variable severity and incomplete penetrance giving rise to a variable pattern of inheritance. Although Hirschsprung's disease occurs as an isolated phenotype in at least 70% of cases, it is not infrequently associated with a number of congenital abnormalities and associated syndromes, demonstrating a spectrum of congenital anomalies. Certain of these syndromic phenotypes have been linked to distinct genetic sites, indicating underlying genetic associations of the disease and probable gene-gene interaction, in its pathogenesis. These associations with HSCR include Down's syndrome and other chromosomal anomalies, Waardenburg syndrome and other Dominant sensorineural deafness, the Congenital Central Hypoventilation and Mowat-Wilson and other brain-related syndromes, as well as the MEN2 and other tumour associations. A number of other autosomal recessive syndromes include the Shah-Waardenburg, the Bardet-Biedl and Cartilage-hair hypoplasia, Goldberg-Shprintzen syndromes and other syndromes related to cholesterol and fat metabolism among others. The genetics of Hirschsprung's disease are highly complex with the majority of known genetic sites relating to the main susceptibility pathways (RET an EDNRB). Non-syndromic non-familial, short-segment HSCR appears to represent a non-Mendelian condition with variable expression and sex-dependent penetrance. Syndromic and familial forms, on the other hand, have complex patterns of inheritance and being reported as autosomal dominant, recessive and polygenic patterns of inheritance. The phenotypic variability and incomplete penetrance observed in Hirschsprung's disease could also be explained by the involvement of modifier genes, especially in its syndromic forms. In this review, we look at the chromosomal and Mendelian associations and their underlying signalling pathways, to obtain a better understanding of the pathogenetic mechanisms involved in developing aganglionosis of the distal bowel.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Chromosome Disorders / complications*
  • Chromosome Disorders / genetics*
  • Down Syndrome / complications
  • Down Syndrome / genetics
  • Hirschsprung Disease / complications*
  • Hirschsprung Disease / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Inheritance Patterns
  • Syndrome