A vertical (pseudodominant) pattern of inheritance in the autosomal recessive disease primary hyperoxaluria type 1: lack of relationship between genotype, enzymic phenotype, and disease severity

Am J Kidney Dis. 1997 Jan;29(1):36-44. doi: 10.1016/s0272-6386(97)90006-8.


Primary hyperoxaluria type 1 (PH1) is a rare autosomal recessive disease caused by a deficiency of alanine:glyoxylate aminotransferase (encoded by the AGXT gene). Primary hyperoxaluria type 1 is characterized by the elevated urinary excretion of oxalate and glycolate, and the deposition of insoluble calcium oxalate in the renal parenchyma and urinary tract. In the present study, we investigated an unusual family containing four affected individuals in two different generations. Based on our genetic, enzymic, metabolic, and clinical analyses, we have come to the following conclusions. First, although the pattern of inheritance of PH1 is usually horizontal (ie, all patients in the same generation), as expected for an autosomal recessive disease, it can sometimes show a vertical (pseudodominant) pattern of inheritance (ie, patients in more than one generation) due to the segregation within a family of three, rather than two, mutant AGXT alleles. Second, affected members of such a family can manifest very different clinical phenotypes both within and between generations. Although the clinical differences between generations might be at least partly due to differences in AGXT genotype, differences can equally occur within the same generation in individuals who possess the same AGXT genotype. Finally, individuals with PH1 at the level of the AGXT genotype might remain asymptomatic and undiagnosed for many years. The consequences of these findings for the clinical management and genetic counseling of families with PH1 are profound and wide-ranging.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alanine Transaminase / analysis
  • Alanine Transaminase / genetics*
  • Chromosome Aberrations / diagnosis
  • Chromosome Aberrations / genetics*
  • Chromosome Aberrations / urine
  • Chromosome Disorders
  • Clinical Enzyme Tests*
  • DNA / blood
  • Female
  • Genes, Dominant*
  • Genes, Recessive*
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Hyperoxaluria, Primary / diagnosis
  • Hyperoxaluria, Primary / genetics*
  • Hyperoxaluria, Primary / urine
  • Male
  • Oxalates / urine
  • Pedigree
  • Phenotype
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Transaminases / analysis
  • Transaminases / genetics*


  • Oxalates
  • DNA
  • Transaminases
  • glutamate-glyoxylate aminotransferase
  • Alanine Transaminase
  • Alanine-glyoxylate transaminase