Iceland Disease: An Overview of the Condition

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Iceland Disease: A Comprehensive Health Overview

Iceland disease, also known as Icelandic disease or hereditary cutis laxa, is a редкое заболевание connective tissue that primarily affects the skin. It is caused by mutations in the elastin gene, which leads to insufficient elastin production. Elastin is a protein that provides elasticity to the skin, allowing it to stretch and recoil. Without adequate elastin, the skin becomes loose and wrinkled, leading to the characteristic symptoms of Iceland disease.

Prevalence and Epidemiology

Iceland disease is an extremely rare condition, with an estimated prevalence of 1 in 100,000 individuals. It is most commonly found in the Icelandic population, with approximately 1 in 500 Icelanders carrying the mutated gene. However, cases have also been reported in other parts of the world, including Europe, North America, and Asia.

Causes and Genetics

Iceland disease is an inherited condition caused by mutations in the elastin gene (ELN). This gene provides instructions for the production of elastin, a protein that is essential for the elasticity of the skin. Mutations in the ELN gene disrupt the normal production or structure of elastin, resulting in a deficiency of this protein.

Iceland disease is an autosomal dominant disorder, which means that only one copy of the mutated ELN gene is needed to cause the condition. Individuals who inherit two copies of the mutated gene (one from each parent) typically have a more severe form of the disease.

Symptoms and Clinical Features

The primary symptom of Iceland disease is loose, wrinkled skin. This can affect the skin on the face, neck, arms, legs, and trunk. The skin may also appear thin and translucent, with visible blood vessels.

Other symptoms of Iceland disease may include:

  • Joint hypermobility: Joints may be unusually flexible and prone to dislocation.
  • Inguinal hernias: These occur when a portion of the intestine protrudes through a weakened area in the abdominal wall.
  • Umbilical hernias: Similar to inguinal hernias, these involve a protrusion of the intestine through the umbilicus.
  • Emphysema: A lung condition characterized by the enlargement of air spaces, leading to shortness of breath.
  • Arterial aneurysms: Weaknesses in the walls of arteries, which can lead to life-threatening ruptures.


The diagnosis of Iceland disease is based on the clinical presentation and family history. A physical examination will reveal loose, wrinkled skin and other characteristic features. In some cases, a genetic test may be performed to confirm the diagnosis by identifying mutations in the ELN gene.

Treatment and Management

Unfortunately, there is no cure for Iceland disease. Treatment focuses on managing the symptoms and preventing complications. This may include:

  • Physical therapy: To maintain joint function and prevent dislocations.
  • Hernia repair: Surgical intervention to repair hernias.
  • Emphysema management: Medications and lifestyle changes to improve lung function.
  • Monitoring for aneurysms: Regular imaging tests to detect and monitor any arterial weaknesses.

Prognosis and Life Expectancy

The prognosis for Iceland disease varies depending on the severity of the condition. Individuals with mild symptoms may have a normal life expectancy, while those with more severe manifestations may experience complications that can affect their overall health.

Research and Advancements

Research on Iceland disease is ongoing, with the goal of improving understanding of the condition and developing new treatment options. Studies are focused on exploring gene therapy and other approaches to restore normal elastin function.


Iceland disease is a rare connective tissue disorder that causes loose, wrinkled skin and other symptoms. While there is no cure, treatment can help manage the condition and improve quality of life. With ongoing research, the outlook for individuals with Iceland disease may continue to improve in the future.

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