Medical Definition of Smith-Magenis syndrome

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Smith-Magenis syndrome: A syndrome of abnormal physical, developmental and behavioral features due to microdeletion of chromosome 17 (loss of a very small segment from chromosome 17).

The face is characterized by a short flat head, prominent forehead, broad square face, upslanting eye slits, deep-set eyes, underdeveloped midface, broad nasal bridge, short nose, tented upper lip, and a chin that is small in infancy and becomes relatively prominent chin with age. There is mild to moderate mental retardation. In infancy there are feeding problems, failure to thrive, hypotonia (floppiness), prolonged napping and lethargy. Later in childhood and adulthood there are attention deficit disorders sometimes with hyperactivity, frequent temper tantrums, impulsivity, distractibility, disobedience, aggression, self injury, toileting difficulties, and self-injurious behaviors including self-hitting, self-biting, and skin picking. There are stereotypic behaviors including spasmodic upper-body squeeze ("self hug"), hand licking and page flipping ("lick and flip") behavior, mouthing objects, insertion of hand in mouth, teeth grinding, body rocking, and spinning or twirling objects.

The syndrome is due to an interstitial deletion from the short (p) arm of chromosome 17 band p11.2 [del(17)(p11.2 p11.2)]. The critical region of loss maps to 17p11.2 region and encompasses a 1.0 Mb region. The deletion usually spans 4 Mb (megabases) and is believed to involve the loss of a number of genes. The syndrome is named for Drs. Ann Smith (at NIH) and Ruth Ellen Magenis (in Oregon) who first described it.

Reviewed on 9/7/2018

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