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Alkaptonuria

Abstract

You are reading a NORD Rare Disease Report Abstract. NORD’s full collection of reports on over 1200 rare diseases is available to subscribers (click here for details). We are now also offering two full rare disease reports per day to visitors on our Web site.

NORD is very grateful to Wendy J. Introne, MD, National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health, for assistance in the preparation of this report.

Synonyms of Alkaptonuria

  • AKU
  • alcaptonuria

Disorder Subdivisions

  • No subdivisions found.

General Discussion

Alkaptonuria is a rare genetic metabolic disorder characterized by the accumulation of homogentisic acid in the body. Affected individuals lack enough functional levels of an enzyme required to breakdown homogentisic acid. Affected individuals may have dark urine or urine that turns black when exposed to air. However, this change may not occur for several hours after urination and often goes unnoticed. Aside from dark urine that is present from infancy, affected individuals generally do not develop symptoms (asymptomatic) during infancy or childhood and often remain unaware of their condition until adulthood. Affected individuals eventually develop ochronosis, which is the bluish-black discoloration of connective and other tissue within the body. Affected individuals may develop discoloration of the skin overlying cartilage within the body such as over part of the outer ear. In some cases, the whites of the eyes (sclera) may also become discolored. In adulthood, affected individuals also develop progressive arthritis of the spine and large joints. The HDG gene codes for the enzyme required for the breakdown of homogentisic acid. Mutations in HDG cause alkaptonuria.

Alkaptonuria Resources

NORD offers an online community for this rare disease. RareConnect was created by EURORDIS (European Rare Disease Organisation) and NORD (National Organization for Rare Disorders) to provide a safe space where individuals and families affected by rare diseases can connect with each other, share vital experiences, and find helpful information and resources. You can view these international, rare disease communities at www.rareconnect.org.

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