Definition of Jadassohn-Lewandowski Syndrome

Jadassohn-Lewandowski Syndrome: This syndrome is a form of what is called elephant nails from birth (pachyonychia congenita).

The characteristic features include:

  • Abnormally thick curved nails (onychogryposis)
  • Thickening of the skin (hyperkeratosis) of the palms, soles, knees and elbows
  • White plaques (leukoplakia) in the mouth
  • Excess sweating (hyperhidrosis) of the hands and feet
  • Teeth are already erupted at birth (natal teeth)

Generation after generation in a family may show the syndrome. It is an autosomal dominant trait. The gene responsible for the syndrome is on chromosome 12 (in band 12q13) and a single copy of the gene (named PD1) is capable of causing the disease. The basic abnormality is a mutation (change) in a gene for keratin, a primary constituent of nails, hair, and skin. Alternate names for the syndrome include pachyonychia congenita of the Jadassohn-Lewandowski type and pachyonychia congenita with natal teeth and type 1 pachyonychia congenita. The syndrome is named for the professor of dermatology at the University of Bern in Switzerland, Josef Jadassohn (1860-1936), and his colleague, Felix Lewandowski (1879- 1921), who first described the syndrome in 1906. About their patient, a 15-year-old girl, they wrote: "The nail plates of all the fingers and toes are extremely thickened, and so hard that they cannot be cut with a scissors; the father has to trim them with a hammer and chisel."

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