von Willebrand Disease

Other Known Aliases hereditary pseudohemophilia

DefinitionAutosomal dominant, hereditary clotting disorder arising from a deficiency in the quantity and/or quality of von Willebrand factor (vWF), which is a protein required for platelet adhesion and involved in primary hemostasis.  The genetic defect responsible for vWF production the vWF gene located on the short arm of chromosome 12 (12p13.2)

Clinical Significance This is the most common type of hereditary blood-clotting disorder in humans, with 3 main hereditary types and multiple subtypes.  Type 1 is the most common and often asymptomatic, Type 2 can have mild to moderate symptoms, Type 3 is the most severe and can manifest with hemarthosis and internal bleeding.

HistoryNamed after Erik Adolf von Willebrand (1870-1949), a Finnish physician who received his medical doctorate from the University of Helsinki 1896, and who took a special interest in hematology and coagulation.  In 1924, a 5yo girl was brought to him due to a bleeding disorder and he successfully performed a family history map on the girl’s 66 living family members and discovered the autosomal dominant pattern.  He published his findings in 1926 in Swedish calling it “pseudo-hemophilia”, but it wasn’t until 1931 (when it was translated into German) did it gain any traction in the medical community.


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