Wilson’s Disease


Other Known Aliases – progressive hepatolenticular degeneration


DefinitionAutosomal recessive condition that causes impaired copper metabolism leading to intoxication due to a mutation in the chromosome 13q14 resulting in faulty ATP7B protein production.

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc. Object name is nihms648222f1.jpg

Clinical SignificanceA rare, but devastating, disease if not identified early in its course.  It can effect multiple systems including:

  • Hepatic – elevated transaminases to fulminant liver failure
  • Hematologic – hemolytic anemia, jaundice
  • Neurologic – athetosis, tremors, dystonia
  • Psychiatric – behavior changes, learning difficulties
  • Ocular – Kayser-Fleischer rings (more on this next week)

Image result for wilson's disease

History – Named after Samuel Alexander Kinnier Wilson (1878-1937), who was an American-born, British neurologist.  He received his medical degree from the University of Edinburgh Medical School in 1902 and studied neurology with Joseph Babinsky at the Salpétriére Hospital in Paris before relocating back to London for the duration of his medical career.   He is also credited with introducing the neuropsychiatric term “extrapyramidal” into the medical lexicon.  He described his eponymous disease in his 1912 medical dissertation where it gained its notoriety, but was first recorded in 1854 by Friedrich Theodor von Freichs.

Samuel Alexander Kinnier Wilson.jpg


  1. Firkin BG and Whitwirth JA.  Dictionary of Medical Eponyms. 2nd ed.  New York, NY; Parthenon Publishing Group. 1996.
  2. Bartolucci S, Forbis P.  Stedman’s Medical Eponyms.  2nd ed.  Baltimore, MD; LWW.  2005.
  3. Yee AJ, Pfiffner P. (2012).  Medical Eponyms (Version 1.4.2) [Mobile Application Software].  Retrieved http://itunes.apple.com.
  4. Whonamedit – dictionary of medical eponyms. http://www.whonamedit.com
  5. Rodriguez-Castro KI, Hevia-Urrutia FJ, Sturniolo GC. Wilson’s disease: A review of what we have learned. World journal of hepatology. 2015; 7(29):2859-70. [pubmed]
  6. Patil M, Sheth KA, Krishnamurthy AC, Devarbhavi H. A review and current perspective on Wilson disease. Journal of clinical and experimental hepatology. 2013; 3(4):321-36. [pubmed]
  7. Bandmann O, Weiss KH, Kaler SG. Wilson’s disease and other neurological copper disorders. The Lancet. Neurology. 2015; 14(1):103-13. [pubmed]
  8. Kinnier Wilson SA.  Progressive Lenticular Degeneration: A Familial Nervous Disease Associated with CIrrhosis of the Liver.  Brain. 1912;34(4):295-507

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s