Background: This study determined the family history and clinical features that suggested autosomal recessive rather than X-linked Alport syndrome.
Methods: All patients had the diagnosis of Alport syndrome and the mode of inheritance confirmed by genetic testing, and underwent examination at a single centre.
Results: Patients comprised 9 males and 6 females with autosomal recessive Alport syndrome, and 18 males and 22 females with X-linked disease. Fourteen (93 %) individuals with autosomal recessive Alport syndrome developed early end-stage renal failure, all 15 had hearing loss, and most had lenticonus (12, 80 %), and a central (13, 87 %) or peripheral (13, 87 %) retinopathy. These features occurred as often as in males with X-linked disease. Females with autosomal recessive inheritance were less likely to have an affected family member in another generation (p = 0.01) than females with X-linked disease. They were more likely to have renal failure (p = 0.003), hearing loss (p = 0.02) and lenticonus (p < 0.001). Fifty percent had a central retinopathy compared with 18 % with X-linked disease (p = 0.14), but peripheral retinopathy prevalence was not different (p = 0.64). Nonsense mutations accounted for 67 % (8/12) of these disease-causing mutations.
Conclusions: Autosomal recessive inheritance is increased in females with Alport syndrome and early onset renal failure, hearing loss, lenticonus, and, possibly, central retinopathy.