URL of this page: https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/condition/woodhouse-sakati-syndrome/

Woodhouse-Sakati syndrome


Woodhouse-Sakati syndrome is a disorder that primarily affects the body's network of hormone-producing glands (the endocrine system) and the nervous system. The signs and symptoms of this condition, which gradually get worse, vary widely among affected individuals, even within the same family.

People with Woodhouse-Sakati syndrome produce abnormally low amounts of hormones that direct sexual development (hypogonadism), which typically becomes apparent during adolescence. Without hormone replacement therapy, affected individuals do not develop secondary sexual characteristics such as pubic hair, breast growth in females, or a deepening voice in males. Females with Woodhouse-Sakati syndrome do not have functional ovaries and may instead have undeveloped clumps of tissue called streak gonads. The uterus may also be small or absent in affected females. Males with this disorder have testes that produce little to no sperm. As a result, people with Woodhouse-Sakati syndrome usually have an inability to conceive children (infertility).

By their mid-twenties, almost all affected individuals develop diabetes mellitus, and they may also have reduced production of thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism). People with Woodhouse-Sakati syndrome also experience hair loss beginning in childhood that gradually gets worse, often resulting in the loss of all scalp hair (alopecia totalis) during adulthood. Eyelashes and eyebrows are sparse or absent, and affected men have little or no facial hair. Some affected individuals have additional characteristic facial features including a long, triangular face; widely spaced eyes (hypertelorism); and a prominent bridge of the nose.

More than half of people with Woodhouse-Sakati syndrome have neurological problems. A group of movement abnormalities called dystonias are common in affected individuals, generally beginning in adolescence or young adulthood. These movement abnormalities can include involuntary tensing of the muscles (muscle contractions) or twisting of specific body parts such as an arm or a leg. Other neurological features can include difficulty with speech (dysarthria) or swallowing (dysphagia), mild intellectual disability, and hearing loss caused by changes in the inner ears (sensorineural hearing loss). The hearing problems develop after the individual has acquired spoken language (post-lingual), usually in adolescence.

In some affected individuals, abnormal deposits of iron in the brain have been detected with medical imaging. For this reason, Woodhouse-Sakati syndrome is sometimes classified as part of a group of disorders called neurodegeneration with brain iron accumulation (NBIA).


Woodhouse-Sakati syndrome is a rare disorder; its prevalence is unknown. Only a few dozen affected families, mostly in the Middle East, have been described in the medical literature.


Woodhouse-Sakati syndrome is caused by mutations in the DCAF17 gene. This gene provides instructions for making a protein whose function is unknown. The protein is found in several organs and tissues in the body, including the brain, skin, and liver.

Most of the DCAF17 gene mutations that have been identified in people with Woodhouse-Sakati syndrome result in a protein that is abnormally short and breaks down quickly or whose usual function is impaired. Loss of DCAF17 protein function likely accounts for the features of Woodhouse-Sakati syndrome, although it is unclear how a shortage of this protein leads to hormone abnormalities and the other signs and symptoms. Researchers suggest that the variation in features of the disorder even within a single family may be caused by the effects of variations in other genes called modifiers; however, these genes have not been identified.


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, but they typically do not show signs and symptoms of the condition.

Other Names for This Condition

  • Diabetes-hypogonadism-deafness-intellectual disability syndrome
  • Extrapyramidal disorder, progressive, with primary hypogonadism, mental retardation, and alopecia
  • Hypogonadism, alopecia, diabetes mellitus, mental retardation, and extrapyramidal syndrome
  • Hypogonadism, alopecia, diabetes mellitus, mental retardation, deafness, and extrapyramidal syndrome
  • Hypogonadism, diabetes mellitus, alopecia, mental retardation and electrocardiographic abnormalities
  • WSS

Additional Information & Resources

Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center

Catalog of Genes and Diseases from OMIM

Scientific Articles on PubMed


  • Agopiantz M, Corbonnois P, Sorlin A, Bonnet C, Klein M, Hubert N, Pascal-Vigneron V, Jonveaux P, Cuny T, Leheup B, Weryha G. Endocrine disorders in Woodhouse-Sakati syndrome: a systematic review of the literature. J Endocrinol Invest. 2014 Jan;37(1):1-7. doi: 10.1007/s40618-013-0001-5. Epub 2014 Jan 8. Review. Citation on PubMed
  • Alazami AM, Al-Saif A, Al-Semari A, Bohlega S, Zlitni S, Alzahrani F, Bavi P, Kaya N, Colak D, Khalak H, Baltus A, Peterlin B, Danda S, Bhatia KP, Schneider SA, Sakati N, Walsh CA, Al-Mohanna F, Meyer B, Alkuraya FS. Mutations in C2orf37, encoding a nucleolar protein, cause hypogonadism, alopecia, diabetes mellitus, mental retardation, and extrapyramidal syndrome. Am J Hum Genet. 2008 Dec;83(6):684-91. doi: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2008.10.018. Epub 2008 Nov 20. Citation on PubMed or Free article on PubMed Central
  • Alazami AM, Schneider SA, Bonneau D, Pasquier L, Carecchio M, Kojovic M, Steindl K, de Kerdanet M, Nezarati MM, Bhatia KP, Degos B, Goh E, Alkuraya FS. C2orf37 mutational spectrum in Woodhouse-Sakati syndrome patients. Clin Genet. 2010 Dec;78(6):585-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-0004.2010.01441.x. Citation on PubMed
  • Bohlega SA, Abusrair A. Woodhouse-Sakati Syndrome. 2016 Aug 4 [updated 2021 Jul 8]. In: Adam MP, Mirzaa GM, Pagon RA, Wallace SE, Bean LJH, Gripp KW, Amemiya A, editors. GeneReviews® [Internet]. Seattle (WA): University of Washington, Seattle; 1993-2022. Available from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK378974/ Citation on PubMed
  • Hdiji O, Turki E, Bouzidi N, Bouchhima I, Damak M, Bohlega S, Mhiri C. Woodhouse-Sakati Syndrome: Report of the First Tunisian Family with the C2orf37 Gene Mutation. J Mov Disord. 2016 May;9(2):120-3. doi: 10.14802/jmd.16003. Epub 2016 May 25. Citation on PubMed or Free article on PubMed Central
  • Steindl K, Alazami AM, Bhatia KP, Wuerfel JT, Petersen D, Cartolari R, Neri G, Klein C, Mongiardo B, Alkuraya FS, Schneider SA. A novel C2orf37 mutation causes the first Italian cases of Woodhouse Sakati syndrome. Clin Genet. 2010 Dec;78(6):594-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-0004.2010.01447.x. Citation on PubMed

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