Alagille Syndrome; Symptoms, Treatment and Life Expectancy

Syndromes are medical conditions where a group of symptoms or signs occur consistently together. The reason behind such association is that they have a common cause, whether genetic, acquired, or both. What is important to understand in syndromes, and in medicine in general, is that they have a cause, and managing the cause is key to controlling the condition. In some cases, however, the cause cannot be controlled, and managing symptoms is the best we can do. However, as long as the syndrome is not life-threatening, controlling its manifestations can be enough.

What is Alagille syndrome and why does it occur?

Alagille syndrome is a genetic disorder, which means that the main problem occurs at the level of genes, and is inherited as an autosomal dominant trait, which means that if a person has Alagille syndrome, and regardless of their partner, half their offspring will have the condition if he has both copies of the gene, and quarter of their offspring will have the condition if he has one defective copy of the gene. It is worth noting, however, that not all of their children who have the disease will manifest it to the fullest, and that the gene has variable expression. The gene that is affected is either the JAG-1 gene or the NOTCH gene. Alagille syndrome nearly affects all body systems, and its manifestations can start early in life.

Written by Martin Davis