Genetic heterogeneity in tubular hypomagnesemia-hypokalemia with hypocalcuria (Gitelman's syndrome)

Kidney Int. 1995 Feb;47(2):547-51. doi: 10.1038/ki.1995.68.


To better clarify the genetic inheritance of primary tubular hypomagnesemia-hypokalemia with hypocalciuria, or Gitelman's syndrome (GS), we studied eight families (10 patients aged 11 to 22 years; 16 parents; 9 siblings) in which at least one offspring had GS (plasma magnesium < 0.65 mmol/liter; plasma potassium < 3.6 mmol/liter; high magnesium and potassium fractional excretions; molar urinary calcium/creatinine < 0.10). Two families each had two offspring of different sex with GS, who all had tetanic episodes and/or marked weakness during childhood or adolescence, whereas in three other families two mothers and three offspring presented GS and one father and two other offspring had hypomagnesemia and hypocalciuria but normal plasma potassium. The mean plasma magnesium and potassium levels of the patients of the first two families were significantly lower (P < 0.05) than those of the other three families. Intralymphocytic but not intraerythrocytic magnesium and potassium were significantly lower (P < 0.05) in patients compared to controls. We hypothesize that there are two different types of genetic transmission of GS, one autosomal recessive and one autosomal dominant with high phenotype variability. It seems that this genetic heterogeneity is associated with a different clinical expression with frequent tetanic episodes and lower plasma potassium and magnesium levels in the autosomal recessive form.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bartter Syndrome / genetics*
  • Calcium / deficiency*
  • Calcium / urine
  • Child
  • Female
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Humans
  • Hypokalemia / genetics*
  • Hypokalemia / metabolism*
  • Kidney Tubules / physiopathology*
  • Magnesium Deficiency / blood
  • Magnesium Deficiency / genetics*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pedigree
  • Syndrome


  • Calcium