, Volume 162, Issue 7-8, pp 449-454
Date: 16 May 2003

Familial mediterranean fever: revisiting an ancient disease

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Abstract

Familial Mediterranean fever (FMF) is an auto-inflammatory disease characterised by periodic attacks of fever and serositis. Recent genetic and epidemiological research have highlighted the importance of this disease. FMF is the most frequent periodic fever syndrome and is transmitted in an autosomal recessive fashion. The disease is caused by mutations in the gene on the short arm of chromosome 16, coding for the protein "pyrin". Pyrin is mainly expressed in neutrophils and monocytes and is among the proteins involved in the interleukin-1 inflammatory pathway. The recurrent attacks of fever are accompanied by severe abdominal pain, arthritis and/or chest pain along with a marked increase in acute phase reactants. Among these, serum amyloid A protein is especially important since it is the precursor of the amyloid A fibrils deposited in secondary renal amyloidosis. Renal amyloidosis has a grave prognosis. Differential diagnosis from other periodic fever syndromes is especially important in western European countries. Among these hyper IgD syndrome is common in Netherlands and the tumour necrosis factor receptor-associated periodic syndrome is especially common among Scottish and Irish families. Mutation analysis of the gene may be helpful in diagnosing FMF; however, if this is not possible, a trial of colchicine is a helpful diagnostic tool. The indications for life-long colchicine treatment should be discussed with the family. Conclusion: familial mediterranean fever and other auto-inflammatory syndromes should be suspected in children with recurrent febrile attacks. Early diagnosis will save the child from unnecessary work-up and kidney involvement.