Modifying factors and phenotypic diversity in Wilson's disease

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Wilson's disease (WD) is a human disorder of copper homeostasis caused by mutations in the copper-transporting ATPase ATP7B. WD is characterized by copper accumulation, predominantly in the liver and brain, hepatic pathology, and wide differences between patients in the age of onset and the spectrum of symptoms. Several factors contribute to the phenotypic variability of WD. The WD-causing mutations produce a wide range of changes in stability, activity, intracellular localization, and trafficking of ATP7B; the nonpathogenic genetic polymorphisms may contribute to the phenotype. In Atp7b-/- mice, a mouse model of WD, an abnormal intracellular distribution of copper in the liver triggers distinct changes in the transcriptome; these mRNA profiles might be used to more specifically define disease progression. The major effect of accumulating copper on lipid metabolism and especially cholesterol homeostasis in mice and humans suggests the importance of fat and cholesterol metabolism as modifying factors in WD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)56-63
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2014


  • ATP7B
  • Cholesterol
  • Copper
  • Wilson's disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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