Wolfram Syndrome

Dr. Ayush PandeyMBBS,PG Diploma

January 16, 2019

March 06, 2020

Wolfram Syndrome
Wolfram Syndrome

What is Wolfram syndrome?

Wolfram syndrome is a rare genetic neurodegenerative disorder. It was first described by Wolfram and Wagener. It manifests as non-inflammatory degenerative changes in the brain and pancreatic islets resulting in diabetes insipidus, diabetes mellitus, damage to the optic nerve, and deafness (DIDMOAD).

What are its main associated signs and symptoms?

The main signs and symptoms of Wolfram syndrome include:

  • Primary symptoms of Wolfram syndrome (diabetes mellitus, optic atrophy, diabetes insipidus, and deafness)
  • Juvenile insulin dependent diabetes mellitus
  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Blurred vision
  • Urinary tract abnormalities
  • Neurological symptoms: Poor balance, an awkward way of walking (ataxia), and sleep apnoea can occur.
  • Psychiatric and behavioural problems such as depression and anxiety
  • Lowered production of testosterone in males (hypogonadism) 
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms: Constipation, trouble swallowing, diarrhoea, and choking
  • Cataract
  • Issues with temperature regulation

What are the main causes?

Wolfram syndrome is caused due to inherited autosomal recessive genetic mutations in the WFS1 gene (most common) or WFS2 gene. Children of consanguineous parents (descended from the same ancestor) have a higher chance of carrying the defective recessive genes, which they can pass on to their children. The dominant genetic disorder can also occur if a single parent has a defective gene, which is inherited by the child.

How is it diagnosed and treated?

In most cases, it is difficult to diagnose Wolfram syndrome. However, diagnosis includes:

  • Testing for diabetes mellitus
  • Eye examination
  • Hearing loss evaluation
  • Molecular genetic testing to detect mutations in the WFS1 and WFS2 genes
  • Brain MRI
  • Anti-glutamic acid decarboxylase and anti-islet cell antibodies testing
  • Hypogonadism (males)
  • Urological signs

Treatment of Wolfram syndrome is based on symptomatic and supportive management, which includes insulin treatment, oral vasopressin, hearing aids, or cochlear implants. Occupational therapy may be helpful, antibiotics in case of urinary tract infections, lipid-lowering drug therapy in case of dyslipidaemias, and anti-hypertensive drug for hypertension may also be initiated.



  1. National Organization for Rare Disorders [Internet], Wolfram Syndrome
  2. Fumihiko Urano. Wolfram Syndrome: Diagnosis, Management, and Treatment. Curr Diab Rep (2016) 16:6
  3. Rohith Valsalan et al. WOLFRAM SYNDROME – CLINICAL AND DIAGNOSTIC DETAILS. Indian Journal of Clinical Biochemistry, 2009 / 24 (4) 436-438
  4. V Viswanathan, S Medempudi, M Kadiri. Wolfram Syndrome. Journal of the Association of Physicians of India, VOL. 56, March 2008
  5. National Institutes of Health; [Internet]. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services; Wolfram syndrome.
  6. N. B. Toppings et al. Wolfram Syndrome: A Case Report and Review of Clinical Manifestations, Genetics Pathophysiology, and Potential Therapies . Case Rep Endocrinol. 2018; 2018: 9412676. PMID: 29850290
  7. Justin B. Hilson et al. Wolfram syndrome: a clinicopathologic correlation . Acta Neuropathol. 2009 Sep; 118(3): 415–428. PMID: 19449020

Medicines for Wolfram Syndrome

Medicines listed below are available for Wolfram Syndrome. Please note that you should not take any medicines without doctor consultation. Taking any medicine without doctor's consultation can cause serious problems.

Medicine Name








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