Interpretive Handbook

Test 83697 :
Wilson Disease Mutation Screen, ATP7B DNA Sequencing

Clinical Information Discusses physiology, pathophysiology, and general clinical aspects, as they relate to a laboratory test

Wilson disease (WD) is an autosomal recessive disorder that results from the body's inability to excrete excess copper. Typically, the liver releases excess copper into the bile. Individuals with WD lack the necessary enzyme that facilitates clearance of copper from the liver to bile. As a result, copper accumulates first in the liver and gradually in other organs. The brain, kidneys, bones, and corneas can also be affected. WD affects approximately 1 in 30,000 people worldwide, with a carrier frequency of approximately 1 in 90 individuals.


The primary clinical manifestations of WD are hepatic and neurologic. Hepatic disease can be quite variable, ranging from hepatomegaly or other nonspecific symptoms that mimic viral hepatitis to severe liver damage, such as cirrhosis. Neurologic symptoms of WD can include poor fine-motor coordination, ataxia, and dysphagia. Psychiatric manifestations are reported in approximately 20% of individuals with WD. A characteristic ophthalmologic finding is the Kayser-Fleischer ring. Individuals with WD typically begin to show symptoms of liver dysfunction or neurologic disease in the first or second decade of life. If not treated, WD can cause liver failure, severe brain damage, and even death.


A variety of laboratory tests are recommended in the initial evaluation for WD. In approximately 95% of cases, serum ceruloplasmin is below normal. Additionally, patients with WD show decreased copper in serum, increased copper in urine, and significantly elevated copper on liver biopsy. While liver biopsy is not recommended as a first-tier screening test for WD, it can be useful to help interpret discrepant biochemical or molecular results. The other tests should be performed prior to sequence analysis of the ATP7B gene, the gene responsible for WD. More than 300 disease-causing mutations have been identified in the ATP7B gene. Most mutations are family-specific with the exception of the H1069Q mutation, which accounts for >50% of identified disease alleles in the Northern European Caucasian population.


See Wilson Disease Testing Algorithm in Special Instructions for additional information.

Useful For Suggests clinical disorders or settings where the test may be helpful

Diagnostic confirmation of Wilson disease

Interpretation Provides information to assist in interpretation of the test results

An interpretive report will be provided.

Cautions Discusses conditions that may cause diagnostic confusion, including improper specimen collection and handling, inappropriate test selection, and interfering substances

A small percentage of individuals who are carriers or have a diagnosis of Wilson disease (WD) may have a mutation that is not identified by this method (eg, large genomic deletions, promoter mutations). The absence of a mutation, therefore, does not eliminate the possibility of positive carrier status or the diagnosis of WD. For carrier testing, it is important to first document the presence of an ATP7B gene mutation in an affected family member.


In some cases, DNA alterations of undetermined significance may be identified.


Rare polymorphisms exist that could lead to false-negative or false-positive results. If results obtained do not match the clinical and biochemical findings, additional testing should be considered.


A previous bone marrow transplant from an allogenic donor will interfere with testing. Call Mayo Medical Laboratories for instructions for testing patients who have received a bone marrow transplant.


Test results should be interpreted in the context of clinical findings, family history, and other laboratory data. Errors in our interpretation of results may occur if information given is inaccurate or incomplete.


Other clinical tests (CERE / Ceruloplasmin, Serum; CUS / Copper, Serum; CUU / Copper, 24 Hour, Urine) may be helpful in the diagnosis of WD.

Reference Values Describes reference intervals and additional information for interpretation of test results. May include intervals based on age and sex when appropriate. Intervals are Mayo-derived, unless otherwise designated. If an interpretive report is provided, the reference value field will state this.

An interpretive report will be provided.

Clinical References Provides recommendations for further in-depth reading of a clinical nature

1. Roberts EA, Schilsky ML: American Association for Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD): Diagnosis and treatment of Wilson disease: an update. Hepatology 2008;47(6):2089-2111

2. Mak CM, Lam CW: Diagnosis of Wilson's disease: a comprehensive review. Crit Rev Clin Lab Sci 2008;45(3):263-290