Septo-optic dysplasia

Septo-optic dysplasia
Septo-optic dysplasia
Classification and external resources
ICD-10 Q04.4
ICD-9 742.2
OMIM 182230
DiseasesDB 32732
MeSH D025962

Septo-optic dysplasia (SOD), also known as de Morsier syndrome[1][2] is a congenital malformation syndrome made manifest by hypoplasia (underdevelopment) of the optic nerve and absence of the septum pellucidum (a midline part of the brain). Vision in each eye can be unaffected, partially lost, or in some patients, completely absent.

Although not included in the name, hypopituitarism is sometimes included in the definition.[3]

Neuroradiologically, intracranial malformations associated with septo-optic dysplasia include agenesis of the septum pellucidum, schizencephaly, and lobar holoprosencephaly.



Optic nerve

The optic nerve hypoplasia is generally manifested by nystagmus (involuntary eye movements, often side-to-side) and a smaller-than-usual optic disc. The degree of visual impairment is variable, and ranges from normal vision to complete blindness. When nystagmus develops, it typically appears by 1–8 months of age, and usually indicates that there will be a significant degree of visual impairment, but the severity is difficult to predict in infancy. Although there are many measures to compensate for visual impairment, there are few treatments available to induce normal optic nerve function.[4]


The degree of pituitary deficiency is also variable, and ranges from normal function, to deficiency of a, to deficiency of both anterior and posterior hormones. It is often unclear if the hypopituitarism is due to a primary pituitary dysfunction or is secondary to a hypothalmic dysfunction. Hypopituitarism in this syndrome is most often manifested by growth hormone deficiency. If severe, it can lead to diagnosis in the first days of life by causing hypoglycemia, jaundice, and micropenis (if a boy). The cause of the jaundice is unknown, and an unusual aspect of it (compared to most neonatal jaundice) is that it can be largely a conjugated (direct) hyperbilirubinemia suggestive of obstructive liver disease. It typically resolves over several weeks once hormone replacement is begun. All of the pituitary hormones can be replaced, and this is the treatment for deficiencies. Septo-optic dysplasia is one of the most common forms of congenital growth hormone deficiency.

Septum pellucidum

The brain effects are also variable. Seizures sometimes occur. Prediction of intellectual outcome in infancy is difficult. Various types of early intervention or equivalent programs can help a child reach full developmental potential.


Septo-optic dysplasia is a highly variable disorder. It is rare for siblings to present with identical features of the Septo-optic dysplasia spectrum. Many patients present with additional developmental defects outside the Septo-optic dysplasia triad. In particular digital defects are common.


Septo-optic dysplasia is a developmental disorder resulting from a defect of normal embryological development. There is no single cause of septo-optic dysplasia. Septo-optic dysplasia has been linked to young maternal age.[5]


Rare familial recurrence has been reported, suggesting at least one genetic form (HESX1).[6] In addition, mutations of the neuronal guidance cue netrin and of its receptor DCC have been implicated in De Morsier's syndrome (Serafini et al. 1996, Fazeli et al. 1997, Deiner et al. 1997) but in most cases SOD is a sporadic birth defect of unknown cause and does not recur again with subsequent pregnancies.

In utero cocaine exposure

Environmental factors including exposure to recreational drugs[7][8][9] can potentially interfere with the in utero brain development of a fetus.[7][8][9] Specifically, in utero cocaine[7][8][9] exposure has been linked to the development of septo-optic dysplasia.[7][8][9]

Valproate toxicity

Valproate toxicity in utero has been implicated as a possible etiology of septo-optic dysplasia.[10]


  1. ^ synd/2548 at Who Named It?
  2. ^ G. de Morsier. Études sur les dysraphies, crânioencéphaliques. III. Agénésie du septum palludicum avec malformation du tractus optique. La dysplasie septo-optique. Schweizer Archiv für Neurologie und Psychiatrie, Zurich, 1956, 77: 267-292.
  3. ^ "septo-optic dysplasia" at Dorland's Medical Dictionary
  4. ^
  5. ^ McNay DE, Turton JP, Kelberman D, et al. (2006). "HESX1 mutations are an uncommon cause of septo-optic dysplasia and hypopituitarism". J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 92 (2): 691–7. doi:10.1210/jc.2006-1609. PMID 17148560. 
  6. ^ Dattani MT, Martinez-Barbera JP, Thomas PQ, et al. (1998). "Mutations in the homeobox gene HESX1/Hesx1 associated with septo-optic dysplasia in human and mouse". Nat. Genet. 19 (2): 125–33. doi:10.1038/477. PMID 9620767. 
  7. ^ a b c d Volpe, J. J. Effect of cocaine use on the fetus, N. Engl. J. Med., 327, 399 (1992).
  8. ^ a b c d
  9. ^ a b c d H. William Taeusch, Roberta A. Ballard, Christine A. Gleason, “Avery’s Diseases of the Newborn, 8th Edition”, 2009, chapter 12, p. 113.
  10. ^ Jerome F. Strauss and Robert L. Barbieri (eds), "Yen and Jaffe's reproductive endocrinology; physiology, pathophysiology, and clinical management", 6th ed, 2009, p. 421.

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