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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Shwachman-Diamond syndrome

Other Names for this Disease
  • Congenital lipomatosis of pancreas
  • Lipomatosis of pancreas, congenital
  • Pancreatic insufficiency and bone marrow dysfunction
  • SDS
  • Shwachman-Bodian syndrome
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What is Shwachman-Diamond syndrome and what causes it?

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What is Shwachman-Diamond syndrome?

Shwachman-Diamond syndrome is an inherited condition that affects many parts of the body, particularly the bone marrow, pancreas, and skeletal system. About 90% of cases of Shwachman-Diamond syndrome are caused by mutations in the SBDS gene. In cases where no SBDS mutation is found, the cause of this disorder is unknown. This condition is inherited in an autosomal recessive manner.[1] Treatment may include enzyme and vitamin supplementation, blood and/or platelet transfusion, administration of granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF), and/or hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.[2]

Last updated: 8/2/2012

What symptoms may be associated with Shwachman-Diamond syndrome?

Shwachman-Diamond syndrome is typically characterized by signs of insufficient absorption (malabsorption) of fats and other nutrients due to abnormal development of the pancreas (pancreatic insufficiency) and improper functioning of the bone marrow (bone marrow dysfunction), resulting in low levels of circulating blood cells (hematologic abnormalities). Additional characteristic findings may include short stature; abnormal bone development affecting the rib cage and/or bones in the arms and/or legs (metaphyseal dysostosis); and/or liver abnormalities.[3] 

As a result of the bone marrow dysfunction, individuals with Shwachman-Diamond syndrome have a higher-than-average chance of developing myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and aplastic anemia, which are disorders that affect blood cell production, and a cancer of blood-forming tissue known as acute myeloid leukemia (AML).[1]
Last updated: 9/17/2010

What causes Shwachman-Diamond syndrome?

Mutations in the SBDS gene have been identified in about 90 percent of people with the characteristic features of Shwachman-Diamond syndrome. This gene provides instructions for making a protein whose function is unknown, although it is active in cells throughout the body. Researchers suspect that the SBDS protein may play a role in processing RNA (a molecule that is a chemical cousin of DNA). This protein may also be involved in building ribosomes, which are cellular structures that process the cell's genetic instructions to create proteins. It is unclear how SBDS mutations lead to the major signs and symptoms of Shwachman-Diamond syndrome.[1]

In cases where no SBDS mutation is found, the cause of this disorder is unknown.[1]

Last updated: 8/2/2012

How is Shwachman-Diamond syndrome inherited?

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 (called carriers), but they typically do not show signs and symptoms of the condition.[1] 

The mode or type of inheritance of Shwachman-Diamond syndrome in individuals without an identified SBDS mutation is unknown.[2]

Last updated: 8/2/2012