Home | About us | Editorial board | Search | Ahead of print | Current issue | Archives | Submit article | Instructions | Subscribe | Contacts | Advertise | Login 
Search Article 
Advanced search 
  Users Online: 5950 Home Print this page Email this page Small font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size  

Table of Contents
Year : 2014  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 855-857

Wilson's disease: An endocrine revelation

Department of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Christian Medical College and Hospital, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Web Publication20-Sep-2014

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Thomas Vizhalil Paul
Department of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Christian Medical College, Vellore - 632 004, Tamil Nadu
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2230-8210.141383

Rights and Permissions

Wilson's disease is an inherited disorder of copper metabolism. The affected patients, who otherwise have a near normal life span, may often suffer from some potentially treatable and under recognized endocrine disorders that may hinder their quality of life. We explored previously published literature on the various endocrine aspects of this disease with their probable underlying mechanisms, highlighting the universal need of research in this area.

Keywords: Bone mineral density, hypothyroidism, hepatic osteodystrophy, renal tubular acidosis, Wilson′s disease

How to cite this article:
Kapoor N, Shetty S, Thomas N, Paul TV. Wilson's disease: An endocrine revelation. Indian J Endocr Metab 2014;18:855-7

How to cite this URL:
Kapoor N, Shetty S, Thomas N, Paul TV. Wilson's disease: An endocrine revelation. Indian J Endocr Metab [serial online] 2014 [cited 2021 Jul 26];18:855-7. Available from: https://www.ijem.in/text.asp?2014/18/6/855/141383

   Introduction Top

Wilson's disease is an inherited disorder of copper metabolism, which is characterized by an accumulation of copper that occurs predominantly in the liver and the brain. Although it is a rare autosomal recessive disease, it appears to have gained significant recognition in countries like India and a state like Tamil Nadu wherein the frequency of consanguineous marriages amounts to 20% thereby having a significant impact in increasing the prevalence. [1],[2]

Although the accumulation of copper begins at birth, symptoms of this disorder appear later, generally between second and fourth decade of life. In a majority of patients with the disorder, early recognition and appropriately treatment generally result in resolution of symptoms and an improved quality of life. [3] Liver transplantation is a definitive form of treatment which subsequently corrects the expression of the underlying genetic defect and may not be an option in many developing countries in view of limited resources.

Patients with Wilson's disease, who otherwise have a near normal life span with the current treatment options, often may have some potentially treatable and frequently under recognized endocrine disorders that may hinder their quality of life. [3],[4]

The endocrine manifestations of Wilson's disease may include disorders of growth and puberty, hypothyroidism, hypoparathyroidism, and metabolic bone disease. However, there appears to be a paucity of medical literature with regards to the prevalence and magnitude of these endocrine manifestations in Wilson's disease. [5],[6],[7]

   Endocrine Manifestations of Wilsons Disease Top

Growth and puberty may be significantly affected in patients with Wilson's disease, secondary to the presence of a long standing chronic illness. However, literature pertaining to this appears to be inadequate in connection with the magnitude of this problem. There are a few case reports which might suggest that infertility, anovulation, amenorrhea, and short stature do occur in patients with Wilson's disease. [5]

The current pathophysiology for short stature in patients with Wilson's disease is still not completely understood. However, apart from the traditional risk factors for short stature in any patient with chronic liver disease such as poor nutritional intake, fat malabsorption, trace element deficiency, and a relative state of growth hormone resistance due to a poor hepatic insulin like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) synthesizing capacity, [8] there is also an additional contribution by a high prevalence of renal tubular acidosis in patients with Wilson's disease. [9] Therefore the growth stunting seen in these individuals seems to be multifactorial.

Hypogonadotropic hypogonadism secondary to chronic liver disease is the most common cause of gonadal dysfunction in patients with Wilson's disease. Several other factors like excessive sex hormone binding globulin production, elevated prolactin levels, and direct suppression of leydig cell function also contribute to gonadal dysfunction in these patients. [10]

In addition, ovarian follicular aromatase dysfunction has also been documented in subjects with Wilson's disease. Kaushansky et al. has demonstrated a disturbed ovarian function in a series of patients with Wilson's disease, as evidenced by low estradiol, high total testosterone (T) levels along with a normal free T and elevated androstenedione. An interference of ovarian follicular aromatase activity, possibly due to copper intoxication could explain these findings as the cause of the ovulatory disturbances of Wilson's disease. [11]

The metabolic bone disease that is associated with Wilson's disease includes rickets, osteomalacia, osteoporosis, and renal tubular acidosis (RTA).

Both proximal and distal RTA have been reported in patients with Wilson's disease. [7] The clinical presentation of RTA in Wilson's disease includes a number of facets which may involve hypercalcuria, nephrocalcinosis, urolithiasis, hypokalemic periodic paralysis, and a low bone mass. [12] Surprisingly, urolithiasis has been reported in about one sixth of patients with Wilson's disease and at times, renal colic may be the sole presenting feature. [13] Indeed, undiagnosed nephrocalcinosis may progress to end stage renal disease. [14] An acute presentation with hypokalemic periodic paralysis has been described. [15] The development of renal tubular acidosis appears to be dependent on the duration of untreated copper overload. [16]

Although there does not appear to be much data on the impact of Wilson's disease on Bone Mineral Density (BMD), several mechanisms have been described as to how liver disease may affect bone strength.

Bony deformities have been reported in as many as 33% of patients of Wilson's disease in a publication from our institute around 25 years ago. [17] About 50% of patients with this disorder were found to have a low bone mass which had no correlation with vitamin D status. [18]

Low BMD is the predominant component of hepatic osteodystrophy and has been reported in about 20-50% of these patients, based on Dual energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DXA). [19],[20] Osteomalacia, which may be due to the presence of concomitant vitamin D deficiency and calcium malabsorption was traditionally considered to be the major metabolic bone disorder in patients with chronic liver disease, but is now observed in only a minority of patients. [21]

A reduced BMD in patients with hepatic disease, tends to largely affect the trabecular bone and has been characterized by low bone turnover with reduced osteoblast function and low serum osteocalcin levels. However, the exact pathogenesis of hepatic osteodystrophy is still largely unknown and there appears to be much controversy with regard to the risk factors in relation to osteoporosis in CLD and in Wilson's disease. [22]

Diabetes has occasionally been described in patients with Wilson's disease. Excessive fat deposition in liver and nuclear glycogen deposition contributing to hepatic insulin resistance has been postulated in these individuals. [23]

Penicillamine, Zinc, and Trientine are the therapeutic agents that have been conventionally utilized in the management of Wilson's disease. The effect of these drugs on bone mineral metabolism has not been well characterized. The study of these drugs on bone mineral metabolism has yielded conflicting results. [24] Chelating agent such as Penicillamine, that have been used for the treatment of Wilson's disease have been reported to reduce the severity of renal tubular disease. [25]

   Conclusion Top

Indeed there appears to be a universal need for research in this area. It is therefore vital that medical institutions of this country, who treat large volume of these patients, investigate in detail the various endocrinopathies that are associated with Wilson's disease. This article emphasizes the need for further studies in this area to add on to add to the existing literature. This will not only help patients of Wilson's Disease who are suffering from endocrine disorders but will also enable us to formulate guidelines for appropriate screening and management of these individuals. Addressing these issues would further improve the quality of life of these patients who appear to be currently effectively managed for their primary manifestations.

   References Top

1.Hamamy H. Consanguineous marriages: Preconception consultation in primary health care settings. J Community Genet 2012;3:185-92.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Krishnamoorthy S, Audinarayana N. Trends in consanguinity in South India. J Biosoc Sci 2001;33:185-97.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Stremmel W, Meyerrose KW, Niederau C, Hefter H, Kreuzpaintner G, Strohmeyer G. Wilson's disease: Clinical presentation, treatment, and survival. Ann Intern Med 1991;115:720-6.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Merle U, Schaefer M, Ferenci P, Stremmel W. Clinical presentation, diagnosis and long-term outcome of Wilson's disease: A cohort study. Gut 2007;56:115-20.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Tarnacka B, Rodo M, Cichy S, Czlonkowska A. Procreation ability in Wilson's disease. Acta Neurol Scand 2000;101:395-8.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Hanukoglu A, Curiel B, Berkowitz D, Levine A, Sack J, Lorberboym M. Hypothyroidism and dyshormonogenesis induced by D-penicillamine in children with Wilson's disease and healthy infants born to a mother with Wilson's disease. J Pediatr 2008;153:864-6.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Leggio L, Gasbarrini G, Addolorato G. Wilson's disease. Lancet 2007;369:397-408.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Bucuvalas JC, Cutfield W, Horn J, Sperling MA, Heubi JE, Campaigne B, et al. Resistance to the growth promoting and metabolic effects of growth hormone in children with chronic liver disease. J Pediatr 1990;117:397-402.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Fulop M, Sternlieb I, Scheinberg IH. Defective urinary acidification in Wilson's Disease. Ann Intern Med 1968;68:770-7.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Karagiannis A, Faidon H. Gonadal dysfunction in systemic diseases. Eur J Endocrinol 2005;152:501-13.  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Kaushansky A, Frydman M, Kaufman H, Homburg R. Endocrine studies of the ovulatory disturbances in Wilson's disease (hepatolenticular degeneration). Fertil Steril 1987;7:270-3.  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Chu CC, Huang CC, Chu NS. Recurrent hypokalemic muscle weakness as an initial manifestation of Wilson's disease. Nephron 1996;73:477-9.  Back to cited text no. 12
13.Nakada SY, Brown MR, Rabinowitz R. Wilson's disease presenting as symptomatic urolithiasis: A case report and review of the literature. J Urol 1994;152:978-9.  Back to cited text no. 13
14.Azizi E, Eshel G, Aladjem M. Hypercalciuria and nephrolithiasis as a presenting sign in Wilson's disease. Eur J Pediatr 1989;148:548-9.  Back to cited text no. 14
15.Chakraborty PP, Mandal SK, Bandyopadhyay R, Chowdhury SR. Recurrent limb weakness as initial presentation of Wilson's disease. Indian J Gastroenterol 2007;26:36-8.  Back to cited text no. 15
16.Santhosh S, Shaji RV, Eapen CE, Jayanthi V, Malathi S, Finny P, et al. Genotype phenotype correlation in Wilson's disease within families-a report on four south Indian families. World J Gastroenterol 2008;14:4672-6.  Back to cited text no. 16
17.Raiamani K, Sharma RN, John G, Raju JM, Ganesh A, John L. Wilson's disease in India: Clinical and laboratory manifestations in thirty patients. J Assoc Physicians India 1987;35:438-41.  Back to cited text no. 17
18.Teixeira S, Domingos J, Carvalho R, Miranda HP, Magalhães M. Prevalence of metabolic bone disease in Wilson's disease (WD) patients Centro Hospitalar do Porto, Porto, Portugal. Endocrine Abstracts 2011;26:P535.  Back to cited text no. 18
19.Hay JE, Lindor KD, Wiesner RH, Dickson ER, Krom RA, LaRusso NF. The metabolic bone disease of primary sclerosing cholangitis. Hepatology 1991;14:257-61.  Back to cited text no. 19
20.Lindor KD, Hanes CH. Bone disease in primary biliary cirrhosis. Hepatology 1995;21:389-92.  Back to cited text no. 20
21.Diamond TH, Stiel D, Lunzer M, McDowall D, Eckstein RP, Posen S. Hepatic osteodystrophy. Static and dynamic bone histomorphometry and serum bone Gla-protein in 80 patients with chronic liver disease. Gastroenterology 1989;96:213-21.  Back to cited text no. 21
22.Hodgson SF, Dickson ER, Wahner HW, Johnson KA, Mann KG, Riggs BL. Bone loss and reduced osteoblast function in primary biliary cirrhosis. Ann Intern Med 1985;103:855-60.  Back to cited text no. 22
23.Baig NA, Herrine SK, Rubin R. Liver disease and diabetes mellitus. Clin Lab Med 2001;21:193-207.  Back to cited text no. 23
24.Selimoglu MA, Ertekin V, Doneray H, Yildirim M. Bone mineral density of children with Wilson's disease: Efficacy of penicillamine and zinc therapy. J Clin Gastroenterol 2008;42:194-8.  Back to cited text no. 24
25.Hoppe B, Neuhaus T, Superti-Furga A, Forster I, Leumann E. Hypercalciuria and nephrocalcinosis, a feature of Wilson's disease. Nephron 1993;65:460-2.  Back to cited text no. 25

This article has been cited by
1 4-Formylphenyl boronic acid grafted amino MCM-41 for efficient adsorption of Cu(II) ions in aqueous medium: isotherm, kinetic and optimization studies
Inderpreet Kaur,Navjot Kaur,Bhupinder Pal Singh,Rajeev Kumar,Jyoti Chawla
Toxin Reviews. 2021; : 1
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 Simultaneous measurement of Cr(III) and Cu(II) based on indicator-displacement assay using a colorimetric nanoprobe
Xianfeng Wang,Chengxiang Chu,Jiayi Lv,Yuanyuan Jia,Libo Lin,Mei Yang,Suyi Zhang,Danqun Huo,Changjun Hou
Analytica Chimica Acta. 2020; 1129: 108
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
3 Wilson Disease
Caitlin Mulligan,Jeff M. Bronstein
Neurologic Clinics. 2020;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
4 Ultra-sensitive electrochemical sensors based on self-assembled chelating dithiol on gold electrode for trace level detection of copper(II) ions
Inderpreet Kaur,Manish Sharma,Sarbjeet Kaur,Amanpreet Kaur
Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical. 2020; : 127935
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
5 The hidden face of Wilsonæs disease
F. Woimant,N. Djebrani-Oussedik,C. Collet,N. Girardot,A. Poujois
Revue Neurologique. 2018;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
6 ATP7B Mutation Detection and Pathogenicity Analysis: One Atypical Case of Wilson’s Disease with Adrenocortical Insufficiency
Min Liu,Meifang Jin,Xuqin Chen,Bo Wan,Yue Guo,Mao Sheng,Linqi Chen,Lei Zhao,Danping Huang,Yan Li
Journal of Molecular Neuroscience. 2017;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
7 Bone Health and Impact of Tenofovir Treatment in Men with Hepatitis-B Related Chronic Liver Disease
Kattiparambil G. Sajith,Nitin Kapoor,Sahana Shetty,Ashish Goel,Uday Zachariah,Chundamannil E. Eapen,Thomas V. Paul
Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hepatology. 2017;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
8 Comparison of Social Support and Self-Injurious Behaviors in Students with and without Learning Disabilities
Mohammad Ghaderi Rammazi,Hamidreza Dehghan,Abbas Abolghasemi
International Journal of High Risk Behaviors and Addiction. 2016; Inpress(Inpress)
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this article
    Endocrine Manife...

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded511    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 8    

Recommend this journal