Lowe Syndrome

Lowe Syndrome (LS) is a rare genetic condition that causes physical and mental handicaps, and medical problems. It was first described in 1952 by Drs. Lowe, Terrey, and MacLachlan at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Because of the three major organ systems involved (eyes, brain, and kidney), it is also known as OCRL (oculo-cerebro-renal) syndrome.

Children with Lowe Syndrome are born with cataracts in both eyes, which are usually removed at a few months of age. Most children are fitted with glasses, contacts, or a combination of the two. Glaucoma is present in about 50% of the boys with Lowe syndrome, though usually not at birth. Prescription eye drop and/or surgery is required to maintain appropriate eye pressure in these cases.

While not present at birth, many Lowe Syndrome children develop kidney problems at approximately one year of age. This is characterized by the abnormal loss of certain substances into the urine, including bicarbonate, sodium, potassium, amino acids, organic acids, albumin and other small proteins, calcium, phosphate, glucose, and L-carnitine. This problem is known as Fanconi-type renal tubular dysfunction and can also be seen in certain other diseases and syndromes. In Lowe syndrome, the Fanconi syndrome may be mild and involve only a few substances or may be severe and involve large losses of many substances. Medications can be prescribed to replace the lost substances.

Lowe syndrome is a hereditary condition that affects only males. It is caused by a single defective gene (an alteration or "mutation") in a gene called OCRL1. Because of this defective gene, an essential enzyme called PIP2-5-phosphatase is not produced. This is the underlying cause of Lowe syndrome. Much research has taken place in the last few years. The gene has been mapped and the deficient enzyme has been identified, although its role is not fully understood.

Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases
Lowe Syndrome Association