How is Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome characterized?

Updated: Apr 28, 2021
  • Author: Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Harumi Jyonouchi, MD  more...
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Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome (WAS) was first described by Wiskott in 1937 and was further characterized by Aldrich in 1954. It is a rare X-linked recessive immunodeficiency disorder characterized by the triad of recurrent bacterial sinopulmonary infections, eczema (atopiclike dermatitis), and a bleeding diathesis caused by thrombocytopenia and platelet dysfunction. [6] However, only a third of patients with the syndrome have the classic triad. [7] Almost 90% of patients have manifestations of thrombocytopenia at presentation, 20% have only hematologic abnormalities, 5% have only infectious manifestations, and none have only eczema. [2] WAS platelets are usually smaller than those of idiopathic thrombocytopenia, but a macrothrombocytopenia has been described in WAS. [8]  Other symptoms may include autoimmune phenomena and malignancies. [3]  

An infant with WAS is seen in the image below.

This 10-month-old infant presented with bloody dia This 10-month-old infant presented with bloody diarrhea at age 4 months followed by recurrent otitis media infections. A maternal uncle had Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome (WAS). Note the mild malar eczema and pretibial ecchymoses in this nonambulatory child. His diagnosis was confirmed by immunologic parameters, thrombocytopenia, and low platelet volume.

Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome occurs in males but can occur in females when the X chromosome that contains the functional allele is inactivated, although this is rare. There may be multiple revertant genotypes in patients with Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome. [9]

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