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Reviewed February 2011
What is Gitelman syndrome?
Gitelman syndrome is a kidney disorder that causes an imbalance of charged atoms (ions) in the body, including ions of potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
The signs and symptoms of Gitelman syndrome usually appear in late childhood or adolescence. Common features of this condition include painful muscle spasms (tetany), muscle weakness or cramping, dizziness, and salt craving. Also common is a tingling or prickly sensation in the skin (paresthesias), most often affecting the face. Some individuals with Gitelman syndrome experience excessive tiredness (fatigue), low blood pressure, and a painful joint condition called chondrocalcinosis. Studies suggest that Gitelman syndrome may also increase the risk of a potentially dangerous abnormal heart rhythm called ventricular arrhythmia.
The signs and symptoms of Gitelman syndrome vary widely, even among affected members of the same family. Most people with this condition have relatively mild symptoms, although affected individuals with severe muscle cramping, paralysis, and slow growth have been reported.
How common is Gitelman syndrome?
Gitelman syndrome affects an estimated 1 in 40,000 people worldwide.
What genes are related to Gitelman syndrome?
Gitelman syndrome is usually caused by mutations in the SLC12A3 gene. Less often, the condition results from mutations in the CLCNKB gene. The proteins produced from these genes are involved in the kidneys' reabsorption of salt (sodium chloride or NaCl) from urine back into the bloodstream. Mutations in either gene impair the kidneys' ability to reabsorb salt, leading to the loss of excess salt in the urine (salt wasting). Abnormalities of salt transport also affect the reabsorption of other ions, including ions of potassium, magnesium, and calcium. The resulting imbalance of ions in the body underlies the major features of Gitelman syndrome.
How do people inherit Gitelman syndrome?
This condition is inherited in an autosomal recessive pattern, which means both copies of the gene in each cell have mutations. The parents of an individual with an autosomal recessive condition each carry one copy of the mutated gene, but they typically do not show signs and symptoms of the condition.
Where can I find information about diagnosis or management of Gitelman syndrome?
These resources address the diagnosis or management of Gitelman syndrome and may include treatment providers.
General information about the diagnosis and management of genetic conditions is available in the Handbook. Read more about genetic testing, particularly the difference between clinical tests and research tests.
To locate a healthcare provider, see How can I find a genetics professional in my area? in the Handbook.
Where can I find additional information about Gitelman syndrome?
You may find the following resources about Gitelman syndrome helpful. These materials are written for the general public.
You may also be interested in these resources, which are designed for healthcare professionals and researchers.
What other names do people use for Gitelman syndrome?
What if I still have specific questions about Gitelman syndrome?
Where can I find general information about genetic conditions?
The Handbook provides basic information about genetics in clear language.
These links provide additional genetics resources that may be useful.
What glossary definitions help with understanding Gitelman syndrome?
arrhythmia ; autosomal ; autosomal recessive ; calcium ; cell ; chloride ; distal ; familial ; gene ; hypokalemia ; ions ; joint ; kidney ; NaCl ; potassium ; recessive ; sodium ; sodium chloride ; syndrome ; wasting
You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary.
See also Understanding Medical Terminology.
References (6 links)
The resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Users seeking information about a personal genetic disease, syndrome, or condition should consult with a qualified healthcare professional. See How can I find a genetics professional in my area? in the Handbook.