Wilson disease in offspring of affected patients: report of four French families

Clin Res Hepatol Gastroenterol. 2013 Jun;37(3):240-5. doi: 10.1016/j.clinre.2013.01.001. Epub 2013 Apr 6.


Background: Wilson disease (WD) is an autosomal recessive genetic disorder caused by mutations in the ATP7B gene resulting in toxic accumulation of copper mainly in the liver and brain. Early treatment may prevent irreversible tissue damage.

Aim: We report on four families with an occurrence of WD in two consecutive generations in order to highlight the need for screening offspring of affected parents.

Results: In all families, one parent was known to be affected with WD. Screening for the disease was not performed in children from two families until occurrence of liver disease in one and of neurological symptoms in the other. In two other families, screening of children as soon as diagnosis was performed in the affected parent allowed a timely rescue of advanced liver disease in one while two affected children were asymptomatic. In three children, diagnosis required direct sequencing of the ATP7B gene. Two novel disease-causing mutations are reported.

Conclusion: Patients with WD should be offered genetic counselling when considering pregnancy and offspring should always be screened for the disease. Diagnostic difficulties based on copper disturbances in asymptomatic children that are obligate carriers of the Wilson gene and the usefulness of molecular diagnosis are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / genetics
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cation Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Child
  • Copper-Transporting ATPases
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Female
  • France
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genetic Testing*
  • Haplotypes
  • Hepatolenticular Degeneration / diagnosis*
  • Hepatolenticular Degeneration / genetics*
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation
  • Pedigree*


  • Cation Transport Proteins
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases
  • ATP7B protein, human
  • Copper-Transporting ATPases