Alport syndrome (COL4A3-related)

Autosomal recessive Alport syndrome is a genetic condition characterised by kidney disease, hearing loss, and eye abnormalities. People affected by Alport syndrome have variations in both copies of their COL4A3 gene.

People with Alport syndrome experience progressive loss of kidney function. Almost all affected individuals have high levels of protein and blood in their urine, which is a sign of kidney damage as this progresses it can lead to kidney failure.

Abnormalities of the structures making up the inner ear can present with hearing loss during late childhood or early adolescence. Affected individuals may also have misshapen lens in the eye and abnormal coloration of the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. These eye abnormalities seldom lead to vision loss.

Males tend to be more significantly affected by these changes however, the severity of the symptoms may vary, even among members of the same family.

Treatment is focused on managing the individual's symptoms; often, a kidney transplantation will be required.

Quick facts about Alport syndrome (COL4A3-related)
Genes: COL4A3
Inheritance: Autosomal Recessive
Relevant resources for Alport syndrome (COL4A3-related)

A quick genetics rundown

As humans we have about 23,000 genes. These genes are like tiny instruction manuals that influence our health, growth and development. We inherit half of our genes from our biological mum and the other half from our biological dad. These genes are lined up on structures called chromosomes. Most of us have 23 pairs of chromosomes. The first 22 pairs are called autosomes and for the most part - these are the same among men and women. The 23rd pair determine our sex - two X chromosomes for a female and one X and one Y chromosome for males.

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How is Alport syndrome (COL4A3-related) inherited?

Alport syndrome (COL4A3-related) is known as an autosomal recessive condition. For autosomal recessive conditions, if a person has a variation in one copy of their gene, they are a carrier. This means that they are healthy because they also have a working copy of the gene. But, they can still pass their non-working copy to their child.

If the other parent also happens to be a carrier of the same gene, there is a 25% (1 in 4) chance that they both pass this gene variation on to their child — and as such, have a child affected by the disease.

If both parents are carriers of Alport syndrome (COL4A3-related), there’s a one in four chance that their children could develop symptoms.
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What is carrier screening?

Carrier testing is like a checkup for your genes. It tests to see if you carry a gene variation that could cause a serious genetic disease in your child. Eugene offers an inclusive genetic carrier screening panel that includes Alport syndrome (COL4A3-related), but there's a total 301 conditions that can be tested.

Eugene’s carrier test is a clinical grade test that can be done from the comfort of your own home — it’s just a saliva test. You're also paired with a genetic counsellor who provides mindful support and guidance every step of the way.

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Should parents screen for Alport syndrome (COL4A3-related) before or early in pregnancy?

The biggest benefit of screening for Alport syndrome (COL4A3-related) is that it can help future parents understand their reproductive risk so they can be ready and empowered to make more informed decisions. If neither partner are carriers, it provides reassurance and peace of mind that the risk of having a child with a genetic disease is low.

Since 90% of children that have a recessive genetic disease like Alport syndrome (COL4A3-related) had no previous family history of it, it often feels completely out of the blue for the parents. Getting screened is a way to know this risk in advance, which can help familes manage or even prevent the disease in the first place.

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