von Hippel-Lindau disease affecting 43 members of a single kindred

Medicine (Baltimore). 1989 Jan;68(1):1-29. doi: 10.1097/00005792-198901000-00001.


We present a 6-generation kindred of over 221 members, 43 of whom were affected with von Hippel-Lindau (vHL) disease. Through a simple screening protocol, we diagnosed vHL retrospectively in 15 cases, and for the first time in 28, 11 of whom were presymptomatic. We found many complications of vHL in previously diagnosed relatives and in new cases. This study has demonstrated the utility and benefit of preventive surveillance in those known to have vHL, and of presymptomatic screening for affected relatives in families with vHL. The features of vHL were reviewed in our 43 cases and 511 cases from the medical literature. The patterns, frequencies, and ages of onset for each lesion were compared. Renal malignancies caused almost as much mortality in vHL as CNS malignancies. This family was exceptional for absence of pheochromocytoma and erythrocythemia, for more renal and pancreatic cysts and malignancies, and for slightly fewer eye or CNS lesions. Bilateral renal adenocarcinomata were found presymptomatically in five young subjects, who had bilateral nephrectomy and hemodialysis. Three survived long-term after renal transplants. Five relatives had pancreatic malignancies, which are definite although uncommon manifestations of vHL. Recommendations are made for family screening, which was economical and effective. Bayesian calculations help to predict risks for genetic counseling. The molecular basis of vHL may soon be found, since it has been linked to DNA markers on the short arm of chromosome 3.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Angiomatosis / genetics*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pedigree
  • von Hippel-Lindau Disease / genetics*
  • von Hippel-Lindau Disease / pathology