Frequency and spectrum of Wolcott-Rallison syndrome in Saudi Arabia: a systematic review

Libyan J Med. 2013 Jun 10;8(1):21137. doi: 10.3402/ljm.v8i0.21137.


Background: Wolcott-Rallison syndrome (WRS) is caused by recessive EIF2AK3 gene mutations and characterized by permanent neonatal diabetes (PNDM), skeletal dysplasia, and recurrent hepatitis. The frequency of this rare syndrome is largely unknown.

Objectives: To define the frequency and spectrum of WRS in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) based on published data.

Methods: The Medline database was searched for published articles on WRS. The number of reported cases from KSA was compared to the total number of WRS cases reported worldwide. The genotype and phenotype of WRS patients from KSA were reviewed.

Results: Ten articles describing 23 WRS patients from 12 Saudi families from 1995 to 2012 were identified. This figure accounts for 27.7% (23/83) of the patients and 22.2% (12/54) of the families with WRS reported worldwide until January 2013. All Saudi patients with WRS presented with PNDM, and they represent 59% of all PNDM cases from WRS. At reporting, 73% of patients experienced recurrent hepatitis, 56.5% had skeletal abnormalities, and 39.1% of them were dead. There was a variation in the phenotype even between affected siblings. Genetic diagnosis was confirmed in all 12 families with no correlation between the genotype and phenotype. Eight of the nine EIF2AK3 mutations were only reported in these families, and one was shared with a patient from Qatar, a neighboring Arab state.

Conclusions: No study on the frequency of WRS has been published. However, the available data indicate that KSA has the largest collection of patients with WRS worldwide, and nine of the identifiable EIF2AK3 mutations appear to be confined to Arabs. Establishing a national or international registry for WRS would provide more reliable data on this rare condition.

Keywords: EIF2AK3 mutations; Saudi Arabia; Wolcott–Rallison syndrome; neonatal diabetes.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Age of Onset
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / genetics
  • Epiphyses / abnormalities
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Mutation / genetics*
  • Osteochondrodysplasias / epidemiology*
  • Osteochondrodysplasias / genetics
  • Phenotype
  • Prognosis
  • Saudi Arabia / epidemiology
  • eIF-2 Kinase / genetics*


  • EIF2AK3 protein, human
  • eIF-2 Kinase

Supplementary concepts

  • Wolcott-Rallison syndrome