A review of clinical characteristics and genetic backgrounds in Alport syndrome

Clin Exp Nephrol. 2019 Feb;23(2):158-168. doi: 10.1007/s10157-018-1629-4. Epub 2018 Aug 20.


Alport syndrome (AS) is a progressive hereditary renal disease that is characterized by sensorineural hearing loss and ocular abnormalities. It is divided into three modes of inheritance, namely, X-linked Alport syndrome (XLAS), autosomal recessive AS (ARAS), and autosomal dominant AS (ADAS). XLAS is caused by pathogenic variants in COL4A5, while ADAS and ARAS are caused by those in COL4A3/COL4A4. Diagnosis is conventionally made pathologically, but recent advances in comprehensive genetic analysis have enabled genetic testing to be performed for the diagnosis of AS as first-line diagnosis. Because of these advances, substantial information about the genetics of AS has been obtained and the genetic background of this disease has been revealed, including genotype-phenotype correlations and mechanisms of onset in some male XLAS cases that lead to milder phenotypes of late-onset end-stage renal disease (ESRD). There is currently no radical therapy for AS and treatment is only performed to delay progression to ESRD using nephron-protective drugs. Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors can remarkably delay the development of ESRD. Recently, some new drugs for this disease have entered clinical trials or been developed in laboratories. In this article, we review the diagnostic strategy, genotype-phenotype correlation, mechanisms of onset of milder phenotypes, and treatment of AS, among others.

Keywords: ACE inhibitor; Bardoxolone; Genotype–phenotype correlation; Thin basement membrane.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Autoantigens / genetics*
  • Collagen Type IV / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genetic Association Studies
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Heredity
  • Humans
  • Kidney / chemistry
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Male
  • Mutation*
  • Nephritis, Hereditary / diagnosis
  • Nephritis, Hereditary / genetics*
  • Nephritis, Hereditary / therapy
  • Phenotype
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Autoantigens
  • COL4A4 protein, human
  • COL4A5 protein, human
  • Collagen Type IV
  • type IV collagen alpha3 chain