Hypophosphatasia: The Disease in Adults

  • Geneviève Baujat
  • Valérie Cormier-Daire
  • Martine Le Merrer
Original Paper


Hypophosphatasia is an inherited skeletal disorder due to mutations within the ALPL gene that encodes the “tissue-nonspecific isoenzyme of alkaline phosphatase”. This disease is characterized by a low serum alkaline phosphatase. If the severe paediatric forms are quite rare (<1/100,000 births), the prevalence of moderate form is theoretically estimated at 1/6,370, suggesting some unrecognized cases. This condition is inherited in an autosomal recessive manner for a majority of cases, but some moderate adult phenotypes and odonto-hypophosphatasia are autosomal dominant. In adult, the presentation is highly variable, being either manifestations of HPP diagnosed in paediatric age or adult-onset HPP. Adult HPP typically manifests during middle age, as variable osteoarticular pain and recurrent slowly healing fractures of metatarsal bone and proximal femur. The presence of chondrocalcinosis and ectopic calcifications around joints and tendon attachments to bone are also reported. Biochemically, this disease is characterized by an excessive urinary excretion of phosphoethanolamine and elevated serum pyridoxical 5’-phosphate. Elevated serum calcium and phosphorus may be found. The molecular diagnosis is today easily performed, by ALPL gene analysis. Adult patients have to be referred in consultation with a genetics professional, to discuss the related genetic counselling issues with the potential risks to offspring, and depending on the individual case, the possibility of prenatal diagnosis. There is no curative treatment, but symptomatic treatments such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents and teriparatide may improve the symptoms. Enzyme replacement therapy is currently evaluated in phase II clinical trials in children and infants and will, hopefully, be soon discussed in some adults presenting with a significant and progressive disease.


Hypophosphatasia TNSALP Alkaline phosphatase Fractures Osteoporosis Pseudofractures 



Serum alkaline phosphatase




Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry


Enzyme replacement therapy




Non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs


Urinary phosphorylated enzyme substrates phosphoethanolamine


Plasma pyridoxical 5’-phosphate


Inorganic pyrophosphate


“Tissue-nonspecific” isoenzyme of alkaline phosphatase



Conflict of interest

Genevieve Baujat, Valerie Cormier-Daire and Martine Le Merrer declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Animal/Human Studies

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geneviève Baujat
    • 1
  • Valérie Cormier-Daire
    • 1
  • Martine Le Merrer
    • 1
  1. 1.Département de génétique, Institut Imagine, Hôpital Necker Enfants-malades, Assistance Publique des Hôpitaux de Paris, INSERM U781Université Paris DescartesParis cedexFrance

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