Diagnosing Alport Syndrome: Lessons from the Pediatric Ward
Background: Alport syndrome is a rare inheritable kidney disease frequently leading to end-stage kidney disease in young adults. Patients could benefit from early recognition of the disease. In several children with Alport syndrome, a parent was noticed to have renal symptoms attributed to another renal disease. Aim: To review the renal history of the closest family members of a cohort of pediatric patients with genetically proven Alport syndrome. Methods: The medical records of all children with genetically proven Alport syndrome identified at our pediatric nephrology department in the last 20 years were reviewed, with focus on the medical history of affected parents. Results: Twenty-three children with Alport syndrome from 21 different families were identified. Eight of 21 probands had family member(s) with renal symptoms attributed to other diseases. In these, a type IV collagen mutation was determined only after the manifestation of Alport syndrome in their child. One proband presented atypically with acute membrano-proliferative glomerulo-nephritis. Only 3 out of 8 probands with a known family history of Alport syndrome had been intentionally screened for this disease. A COL4A5 mutation was found in 18 probands, COL4A3 in 2, and COL4A4 in 1. Each family showed private mutations; 17 out of 21 mutations were novel. Conclusions: Atypical presentation of Alport syndrome was quite common in mothers of our pediatric patients. To enable earlier diagnosis of Alport syndrome, nephrologists should look for a positive diagnosis in any patient with persistent renal symptoms, especially if there is a positive family history of (any) renal disease.