Renal involvement and the role of Notch signalling in Alagille syndrome

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Abstract

| Alagille syndrome is an autosomal dominant disorder with variable multisystem organ involvement that is caused by mutations in one of two genes in the Notch signalling pathway, JAG1 or NOTCH2. Alagille syndrome is characterized by bile duct paucity, along with at least three of the following features: cholestasis, cardiac defects, skeletal abnormalities, ocular abnormalities and characteristic facies. However, the clinical features of Alagille syndrome are highly variable, and children or adults may also present with predominantly renal findings and little or no hepatic involvement. Renal involvement occurs in 40% of JAG1-mutation-positive individuals. Renal insufficiency is common and has been specifically reported in children with Alagille syndrome who have end-stage liver disease. The role of NOTCH2 and JAG1 in formation of proximal nephron structures and podocytes might explain the observed phenotypes of renal dysplasia and proteinuria in patients with Alagille syndrome, and renal tubular acidosis may be the result of JAG1 expression in the collecting ducts. Renal vascular hypertension in patients with Alagille syndrome is explained by the widespread vasculopathy and the role of Notch signalling in vascular development. Increased awareness of Alagille syndrome amongst nephrologists may lead to more diagnoses of Alagille syndrome in patients with apparently isolated renal disease.

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