Pfeiffer syndrome

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Pfeiffer syndrome
OMIM 101600
DiseasesDB 32145
MeSH D000168

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


Pfeiffer syndrome is a genetic disorder characterized by the premature fusion of certain bones of the skull (craniosynostosis), which prevents further growth of the skull and affects the shape of the head and face. It is named for Rudolf Arthur Pfeiffer.[1][2]

Pfeiffer syndrome affects about 1 in 100,000 individuals. [3]

Pathophysiology and presentation

Many of the characteristic facial features of Pfeiffer syndrome result from the premature fusion of the skull bones. The head is unable to grow normally, which leads to bulging and wide-set eyes, an underdeveloped upper jaw, and a beaked nose. About 50 percent of children with Pfeiffer syndrome have hearing loss (hearing loss with craniofacial syndromes), and dental problems are also common.


Pfeiffer syndrome is divided into three subtypes.

  • Type 1 or "classic" Pfeiffer syndrome has symptoms as described above. Most individuals with type 1 have normal intelligence and a normal life span.
  • Types 2 and 3 are more severe forms of Pfeiffer syndrome, often involving problems with the nervous system. Type 2 is distinguished from type 3 by more extensive fusion of bones in the skull, leading to a "cloverleaf" shaped head.


It is associated with deficiencies of fibroblast growth factor receptors.[4][5][6]

More specifically, mutations in the FGFR1 and FGFR2 genes cause Pfeiffer syndrome. The FGFR1 and FGFR2 genes play an important role in signaling the cell to respond to its environment, perhaps by dividing or maturing. A mutation in either gene causes prolonged signaling, which can promote early maturation of bone cells in a developing embryo and the premature fusion of bones in the skull, hands, and feet.

Type 1 Pfeiffer syndrome is caused by mutations in either the FGFR1 or FGFR2 gene. Types 2 and 3 are caused by mutations in the FGFR2 gene.

This condition is inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern, which means one copy of the altered gene in each cell is sufficient to cause the disorder.


  1. Template:WhoNamedIt
  2. Pfeiffer RA (1964). "Dominant Hereditary Acrocephalosyndactylia". Zeitschrift für Kinderheilkunde (in German). 90: 301–20. PMID 14316612.
  3. Vogels A, Fryns JP (2006). "Pfeiffer syndrome". Orphanet J Rare Dis. 1: 19. doi:10.1186/1750-1172-1-19. PMID 16740155.
  4. Chen L, Deng CX (2005). "Roles of FGF signaling in skeletal development and human genetic diseases". Front. Biosci. 10: 1961–76. PMID 15769677.
  5. Cornejo-Roldan LR, Roessler E, Muenke M (1999). "Analysis of the mutational spectrum of the FGFR2 gene in Pfeiffer syndrome". Hum. Genet. 104 (5): 425–31. PMID 10394936. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  6. Wilkie AO, Patey SJ, Kan SH, van den Ouweland AM, Hamel BC (2002). "FGFs, their receptors, and human limb malformations: clinical and molecular correlations". Am. J. Med. Genet. 112 (3): 266–78. doi:10.1002/ajmg.10775. PMID 12357470. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)

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