Alport syndrome

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Alport Syndrome



A hereditary disease of the kidneys that primarily affects men, causing blood in the urine, hearing loss and eye problems. Eventually, kidney dialysis or transplant may be necessary.


Alport syndrome affects about one in 5,000 Americans, striking men more often and severely than women. There are several varieties of the syndrome, some occurring in childhood and others not causing symptoms until men reach their 20s or 30s. All varieties of the syndrome are characterized by kidney disease that usually progresses to chronic kidney failure and by uremia (the presence of excessive amounts of urea and other waste products in the blood).

Causes and symptoms

Alport syndrome in most cases is caused by a defect in one or more genes located on the X chromosome. It is usually inherited from the mother, who is a normal carrier. However, in up to 20% of cases there is no family history of the disorder. In these cases, there appears to be a spontaneous genetic mutation causing Alport syndrome.
Blood in the urine (hematuria) is a hallmark of Alport syndrome. Other symptoms that may appear in varying combinations include:
  • protein in the urine (proteinuria)
  • sensorineural hearing loss
  • eye problems [involuntary, rhythmic eye movements (nystagmus), cataracts, or cornea problems]
  • skin problems
  • platelet disorders
  • abnormal white blood cells
  • smooth muscle tumors
Not all patients with Alport syndrome have hearing problems. In general, those with normal hearing have less severe cases of Alport syndrome.


Alport syndrome is diagnosed with a medical evaluation and family history, together with a kidney biopsy that can detect changes in the kidney typical of the condition. Urinalysis may reveal blood or protein in the urine. Blood tests can reveal a low platelet level.
In addition, tests for the Alport gene are now available. Although testing is fairly expensive, it is covered by many types of health insurance. DNA tests can diagnose affected children even before birth, and genetic linkage tests tracing all family members at risk for Alport syndrome are also available.


There is no specific treatment that can "cure" Alport syndrome. Instead, care is aimed at easing the problems related to kidney failure, such as the presence of too many waste products in the blood (uremia).
To control kidney inflammation (nephritis), patients should:
  • restrict fluids
  • control high blood pressure
  • manage pulmonary edema
  • control high blood levels of potassium
Rarely patients with Alport syndrome may develop nephrotic syndrome, a group of symptoms including too much protein in the urine, low albumin levels, and swelling. To ease these symptoms, patients should:
  • drink less
  • eat a salt-free diet
  • use diuretics
  • have albumin transfusions
The treatment for chronic kidney failure is dialysis or a kidney transplant.


Women with this condition can lead a normal life, although they may have slight hearing loss. An affected woman may notice blood in her urine only when under stress or pregnant.
Men generally have a much more serious problem with the disease. Most will experience kidney disease in their 20s or 30s, which may eventually require dialysis or transplantation, and many develop significant hearing loss. Men with Alport syndrome often die of complications by middle age.


Alport syndrome is a genetic disease and prevention efforts are aimed at providing affected individuals and their families with information concerning the genetic mechanisms responsible for the disease. Since it is possible to determine if a woman is a carrier, or if an unborn child has the condition, genetic counseling can provide helpful information and support for the decisions that affected individuals and their families may have to make.

Key terms

Albumin — A protein that is important in maintaining blood volume. Low albumin levels is one sign of Alport syndrome.
Dialysis — A technique of removing waste material from the blood. It is used with patients whose kidneys have stopped functioning and can no longer cleanse the blood on their own.
Diuretic — A drug that increases the amount of urine a person produces.
Hematuria — Blood in the urine, Hematuria is a hallmark of Alport syndrome.
Pulmonary edema — Excess fluid in the air spaces of the lungs.
Uremia — The presence of excessive amounts of urea and other waste products in the blood.



American Association of Kidney Patients. 100 S. Ashley Dr., #280, Tampa, FL 33602. (800) 749-2257.
American Kidney Fund (AKF). Suite 1010, 6110 Executive Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20852. (800) 638-8299.
National Kidney and Urologic Disease Information Clearinghouse. 3 Information Way, Bethesda, MD 20892. (301) 654-4415.
National Kidney Foundation. 30 East 33rd St., New York, NY 10016. (800) 622-9010.
National Organization for Rare Diseases. P.O. Box 8923, Fairfield, CT 06812. (213) 745-6518. 〈〉.


Alport Syndrome Home Page. 〈∼cla6202/ASHP.htm〉.
"Alport Syndrome." Pediatric Database Home Page. 〈〉.
The Hereditary Nephritis Foundation (HNF) Home Page. 〈∼cla6202/HNF.htm〉.
Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Al·port syn·drome

a genetically heterogeneous disorder characterized by nephritis associated with microscopic hematuria and slow progression of renal failure, sensorineural hearing loss, and ocular abnormalities such as lenticonus and maculopathy; autosomal dominant [MIM*104200, MIM*153640, and MIM*153650], autosomal recessive [MIM*203780], and X-linked recessive [MIM*301050 and MIM*303630] forms exist. The X-linked form is caused by mutation in the collagen type IV α-5 gene (COL4A5) on chromosome Xq; the autosomal recessive form results from mutation in the collagen type IV α-3 gene (COL4A3) or α-4 gene (COL4A4) on 2q.
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012

Alport syndrome

A heterogeneous group of conditions with variable patterns of heredity–most are X-R but also AD and AR frequency 1 in 50,000 Clinical Glomerulonephritis, hematuria, proteinuria, evolving to HTN, nephrotic syndrome, and end-stage renal disease, variably accompanied by sensorineural deafness, colored urine, swelling, cough, poor vision Treatment Kidney transplant may be successful in absence of anti-glomerular basement membrane and anti-tubular antibodies
McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Al·port syn·drome

(al'pōrt sin'drōm)
A genetically heterogeneous disorder characterized by nephritis associated with microscopic hematuria and slowly progressive renal failure, sensorineural hearing loss, and ocular abnormalities such as lenticonus and maculopathy; autosomal dominant, autosomal recessive, and X-linked recessive forms exist. The X-linked form is caused by mutation in the collagen type IV alpha-5 gene (COL4A5) on chromosome Xq; the autosomal recessive form is due to mutation in the collagen type IV alpha-3 gene (COL4A3) or alpha-4 gene (COL4A4) on 2q.
Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing © Farlex 2012


Arthur Cecil, South African physician, 1880-1959.
Alport syndrome - progressive microscopic hematuria.
Medical Eponyms © Farlex 2012
References in periodicals archive ?
The Phase 3 portion of CARDINAL is an international, multi-center, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial studying the safety and efficacy of bardoxolone methyl (bardoxolone) in patients with chronic kidney disease caused by Alport syndrome. Enrollment in the pivotal Phase 3 portion of CARDINAL was completed last year with 157 patients.
The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) stated on Friday that it held an Externally-Led Patient-Focused Drug Development Meeting (PFDD) for the rare form of Alport syndrome (AS) in partnership with The Alport Syndrome Foundation.
The funding comes from a joint programme of three charity organizations: the US-based Alport Syndrome Foundation (ASF), the Kidney Foundation of Canada (KFOC), and the Pedersen Family.
Group B consisted of 15 healthy children with normal urinalyses, and Group C consisted of eight children with a nephrotic syndrome other than ISSNS (i.e., n = 1 with Alport syndrome, lupus nephritis, purpura nephritis, hemolytic uremic syndrome, IgA nephritis, or non-IgA mesangial proliferative glomerulonephritis; n = 2 with membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis type I).
Alport syndrome (AS) is a genetic disorder due to the inheritance of multiple defective genes which lead to production and deposition of abnormal type IV collagen [1].
Microspherophakia is usually associated with systemic disorders such as Weill-Marchesani syndrome (WMS), homocystinemia, Marfan syndrome, Alport syndrome and Klinefelter syndrome.
Alport syndrome is a genetic condition characterized by glomerulonephritis, end stage kidney disease, hearing loss and can also affect the eyes.
A hereditary condition called Alport Syndrome affected the brothers in their early 20s, eventually leading to kidney failure.
This loss of collagen IV organization is likely to contribute to the phenotype of these lenses as mutations in the COL4A1 gene cause anterior segment defects [58, 59], while mutations in the COL4A3 or COL4A4 genes result in Alport Syndrome in humans, which is associated with anterior and posterior lenticonus, capsular ruptures, and cataracts [59-64].
Alport syndrome with diffuse leiomyomatosis (ASDL) is a complex combination that doesn't have a specific course of treatment.
A 32-year-old-man, an Alport Syndrome carrier X link genetic disorder, (1) has developed renal insufficiency and has been on peritoneal dialysis for 10 months.