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Menkes disease: what a multidisciplinary approach can do

Authors Ojha R, Prasad AN

Received 23 March 2016

Accepted for publication 7 May 2016

Published 17 August 2016 Volume 2016:9 Pages 371—385


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Rahul Ojha,1 Asuri N Prasad1–4

1Department of Pediatrics, 2Section of Pediatric Neurology, 3Division of Clinical Neurological Sciences, 4Child Health Research Institute, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada

Disorders of copper homeostasis are currently recognized across the life span. Their recognition and links to human disease have spanned several decades, beginning with the recognition of a degenerative disorder in the offspring of sheep grazing in copper-deficient pastures, through to the description of infants suffering from a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by epileptic seizures, developmental regression, failure to thrive, and an unusual hair quality (giving the condition its distinctive label of “kinky hair disease”). In this review, we trace the historical background and describe the biochemistry and physiology of copper metabolism and transport, inheritance patterns, molecular genetics, and genotype–phenotype correlations based on current understanding of the disorder. It is clear from the clinical presentations and variants that disorders of copper homeostasis include phenotypes ranging from mild occipital horn syndrome to intermediate and severe forms of classical Menkes disease. The symptoms involve multiple organ systems such as brain, lung, gastrointestinal tract, urinary tract, connective tissue, and skin. A multisystem disorder needs a multidisciplinary approach to care, as treatment interventions permit longer survival for some individuals. Animal models have been developed to help screen treatment options and provide a better understanding of these disorders in the laboratory. Finally, we propose a multidisciplinary approach to promote continued research (both basic and clinical) to improve survival, quality of life, and care for these conditions.

Menkes disease, kinky hair, ceruloplasmin, neurodegenerative, copper homeostasis

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