Von Hippel-Lindau disease: An evaluation of natural history and functional disability

Alberto Feletti, Mariagiulia Anglani, Bruno Scarpa, Francesca Schiavi, Francesca Boaretto, Stefania Zovato, Elisa Taschin, Mario Gardi, Elisabetta Zanoletti, Stefano Piermarocchi, Alessandra Murgia, Giacomo Pavesi, Giuseppe Opocher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Although many studies have been published about specific lesions characterizing von Hippel-Lindau(VHL) disease, none have dealt with the natural history of the whole disease and the consequent disabilities. We aim to define the comprehensive natural history of VHL disease and to describe the functional disabilities and their impact upon patients' quality of life, thereby tailoring the follow-up schedule accordingly. Methods We performed a prospective analysis on 128 VHL-affected patients beginning in 1996. For each affected organ, we defined intervals between the first and subsequent VHL-related manifestations and compared them with current VHL surveillance protocols. We looked for any association of the number of involved organs with age, sex, type of VHL gene mutation, and functional domain mutation. Ultimately, we assessed the organ-specific disabilities caused by VHL disease. Results Hemangioblastomas show different patterns of progression depending on their location, whereas both renal cysts and carcinomas have similar progression rates. Surgery for pheochromocytoma and CNS hemangioblastoma is performed earlier than for pancreatic or renal cancer. The number of involved organs is associated with age but not with sex, type of VHL gene mutation, or functional domain mutation. A thorough analysis of functional disabilities showed that age is related to the first-appearing functional impairment, but it is not predictive of the final number of disabilities. Conclusions Our study defines the disease progression and provides a comprehensive view of the syndrome over time. We analyzed for the first time the functional disability of VHL patients, assessing the progression for each function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1011-1020
Number of pages10
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2016


  • disability
  • follow-up
  • functional impairment
  • natural history
  • VHL

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology
  • Clinical Neurology


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