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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Wilson disease and canine copper toxicosis.

In this article we review the current clinical and research status of Wilson disease and canine copper toxicosis. One of the main clinical challenges in Wilson disease is for clinicians to recognize the possibility of Wilson disease when young patients present with liver disease, psychiatric disease, or a movement-disorder type of neurologic disease. Once the possibility of the disease is recognized, many copper-related tests are available that are quite accurate in making the diagnosis or ruling it out. It is important to remember that this is an inherited disease and that family members at risk should be screened, particularly siblings. The cloning of the Wilson disease gene opened up the possibility that a direct DNA test could be developed, allowing convenient screening of certain patients and family members. However, the large number of mutations already found, with no small set of mutations dominating the picture, have thwarted this approach. Once the diagnosis has been made, a variety of treatments are available. For maintenance therapy, therapy of presymptomatic patients, and therapy of pregnant patients, we use zinc. For initial therapy of patients with liver disease, we use a combination of zinc and trientine. For initial therapy of patients with neurologic disease we use tetrathiomolybdate. Canine copper toxicosis in Bedlington terriers is due to a gene different from the gene for Wilson disease. However, the disease is treatable with the same array of anticopper therapies that work in humans. Recently, we established linkage of the copper toxicosis gene to a microsatellite marker, which has made available a linkage test to breeders of Bedlington terriers.[1]


  1. Wilson disease and canine copper toxicosis. Brewer, G.J. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. (1998) [Pubmed]
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