What is the role of genetics in the etiology of Wilson disease?

Updated: Feb 14, 2019
  • Author: Richard K Gilroy, MBBS, FRACP; Chief Editor: Praveen K Roy, MD, AGAF  more...
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Many of the gene defects for ATP7B are small deletions, insertions, or missense mutations. Most patients carry different mutations on each of their 2 chromosomes. More than 40 different mutations have been identified, the most common of which is a change from a histidine to a glutamine (H1069Q). Stapelbroek et al linked the H1069Q mutation to a late and neurologic presentation. [6]

The excess copper resulting from Wilson disease promotes free radical formation that results in oxidation of lipids and proteins. Ultrastructural abnormalities in the earliest stages of hepatocellular injury, involving the endoplasmic reticulum, mitochondria, peroxisomes, and nuclei, have been identified. Initially, the excess copper accumulates in the liver, leading to damage to hepatocytes. Eventually, as liver copper levels increase, it increases in the circulation and is deposited in other organs.

Stuehler et al reported that base pair changes in the MURR1 gene were associated with an earlier presentation of Wilson disease. [7] MURR1 had previously been established to cause canine copper toxicosis in Bedlington terriers.

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