Autonomic nervous system dysfunction in Prader–Willi syndrome


Butler MG, Victor AK, Reiter LT.

Scientific Notation:

Clinical Autonomic Research (2022):

Publication Link:


Introduction: Prader–Willi syndrome is a complex neurodevelopmental genetic disorder due to lack of paternal expression of critical imprinted genes in the 15q11.2-q13.1 chromosomal region, generally from a paternal deletion. Predominant features include infantile hypotonia, a poor suck with failure to thrive, craniofacial features, and developmental and behavioral problems including self-injury and childhood onset of obesity. In addition to severe obesity, patients with PWS present with other symptoms of autonomic nervous system dysfunction. Methods: We examined the features seen in Prader–Willi syndrome and searched the literature for evidence of autonomic nervous system involvement in this rare obesity-related disorder and illustrative findings possibly due to autonomic nervous system dysfunction. Additionally, we reviewed the literature in relation to childhood obesity syndromes and compared those syndromes to the syndromic obesity found in Prader–Willi syndrome. Results: We report autonomic nervous system-related symptoms associated with childhood obesity impacting features seen in Prader–Willi syndrome and possibly other obesity-related genetic syndromes. We compiled evidence of both an autonomic route for the obesity seen in PWS and other autonomic nervous system-related dysfunctions. These include decreased salvation, sleep disordered breathing, increased pain and thermal threshold instability, delayed gastric emptying, altered blood pressure readings, and pupillary constriction responses as evidence of autonomic nervous system involvement. Conclusions: We summarized and illustrated findings of autonomic nervous system dysfunction in Prader–Willi syndrome and other obesity-related syndromes and genetic factors that may play a causative role in development.