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September 1992

Possible Werner Syndrome: A Unique Association With Spontaneous Digital Gangrene in Infancy and Decreased Life Span of Cultured Skin Fibroblasts

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Dermatology, Mito (Japan) Red Cross Hospital (Dr Iijima); the Department of Genetics, Institute of Basic Medicine (Dr Arinami) and the Department of Dermatology, Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Tsukuba (Japan) (Dr Otsuka).

Arch Dermatol. 1992;128(9):1238-1242. doi:10.1001/archderm.1992.01680190094012

• Background.—  Werner syndrome is a hereditary disease characterized by several features generally associated with aging. However, the differences between Werner syndrome and the normal aging process are clear. Werner syndrome is usually diagnosed through the clinical signs and symptoms it presents. In recent years, however, the cultured skin fibroblasts of patients have grown slowly and patients have a short life span; these characteristics provide a useful diagnostic aid.

Observations.—  We recently examined a 42-year-old single man who had short fingers, marked facial scars resulting from chilblain-like eruption in infancy, glaucoma caused by uveitis developed in his middle age, callosities on the soles, and immaturation of sexual glands. Repeated peripheral blood examinations showed a positive result for antinuclear factor, slight elevation of immunoglobulin levels, and a low leukocyte count. His family had repeated consanguineous marriages and his parents were cousins. We cultured skin fibroblasts from the patient's forearm and compared them with those of four normal control male subjects. The patient's skin fibroblasts showed a remarkably low population growth rate and a total replicative life span.

Conclusion.—  The patient presented unique clinical features for Werner syndrome such as chilblain-like eruption in infancy and glaucoma caused by uveitis. Cell culture studies revealed cellular abnormalities compatible with Werner syndrome. We thus diagnosed the patient as possibly having Werner syndrome.(Arch Dermatol. 1992;128:1238-1242)

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