Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome and the skin

Fam Cancer. 2013 Sep;12(3):381-5. doi: 10.1007/s10689-013-9600-8.


Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome (MIM #135150) is characterized by the development of benign skin tumours called fibrofolliculomas, pulmonary cysts that may lead to pneumothorax and a high risk of developing kidney cancer. BHD is caused by mutations affecting the highly conserved protein folliculin (FLCN), which probably has a role in intracellular transport. Most of the research effort directed towards BHD has focused on understanding how loss of FLCN causes kidney cancer. The cutaneous manifestations have received comparatively little attention. Although understandable, it is unfortunate, as the fibrofolliculomas are highly accessible and thus potentially are an excellent system for trying to understand the basic pathobiology of BHD. Also, patients can be very much burdened by the cosmetic consequences of having hundreds of facial skin tumours. Our lack of insight into what drives fibrofolliculoma growth translates into a very limited therapeutic arsenal. Thus, paying attention to fibrofolliculomas has both basic science and practical benefits. In this review, we will discuss the state of the art regarding our understanding of fibrofolliculoma pathogenesis and indicate future directions for research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Birt-Hogg-Dube Syndrome / complications*
  • Humans
  • Skin Diseases / diagnosis
  • Skin Diseases / etiology*
  • Skin Diseases / therapy