Rapp Hodgkin Syndrome

Rapp Hodgkin Syndrome

National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.


It is possible that the main title of the report Rapp Hodgkin Syndrome is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.


  • RHS
  • Ectodermal dysplasia, anhidrotic, with cleft lip and cleft palate
  • Ectodermal dysplasia, Rapp-Hodgkin type
  • Rapp-Hodgkin (hypohidrotic) ectodermal dysplasia syndrome

Disorder Subdivisions

  • None

General Discussion

Rapp-Hodgkin syndrome, an extremely rare inherited multisystem disorder that is apparent at birth (congenital) or during infancy, belongs to a group of diseases known as ectodermal dysplasias. Ectodermal dysplasias typically affect the skin, teeth, hair, and/or nails. Rapp-Hodgkin syndrome is characterized by a reduced ability to sweat (hypohidrosis); an incomplete closure of the roof of the mouth (cleft palate) and/or an abnormal groove in the upper lip (cleft lip); partial or complete absence (hypodontia or partial anodontia) and/or abnormal smallness (microdontia) of primary and secondary (permanent) teeth. Infants and children with the disorder also have abnormally sparse, coarse, wiry scalp hair that is often lost prematurely during adulthood (alopecia); unusually slow-growing, improperly developed nails (dysplastic); and, in some cases, additional physical abnormalities. In most cases, Rapp-Hodgkin syndrome is inherited as an autosomal dominant trait.


The symptoms and physical findings associated with Rapp-Hodgkin syndrome vary greatly from case to case.

Rapp-Hodgkin syndrome is characterized by an impaired ability or lack of ability to sweat (hypohidrosis or anhidrosis) due to a reduced number of sweat glands and/or pores in the skin. However, in some cases, affected individuals may sweat profusely on the scalp. Individuals with Rapp-Hodgkin syndrome may be susceptible to abnormally high body temperatures (hyperthermia) particularly during childhood due to impaired ability to sweat.

In most cases, infants with Rapp-Hodgkin syndrome may have incomplete closure of the roof of the mouth (cleft palate) and/or a groove in the upper lip (cleft lip). In addition, affected infants and children may be missing some or all primary (deciduous) and permanent (secondary) teeth (hypodontia or oligodentia). Existing teeth may be small, cone-shaped (conical), and/or prone to decay (caries). In addition, affected individuals may have an abnormally high forehead, underdevelopment of the middle portion of the face (midface hypoplasia), a low nasal bridge, and/or a narrow nose with underdeveloped outer corners of the nostrils (alae nasi). In some cases, the soft-tissue structure that hangs at the back of the throat (uvula) may be abnormally divided (bifid), the mouth may be abnormally small, and/or the upper jawbone may be underdeveloped (maxillary hypoplasia). Infants with this disorder often experience a condition in which the soft, back portion of the roof of the mouth (soft palate) does not adequately press against the back wall of the throat (pharynx) during swallowing (velopharyngeal incompetency), thus potentially failing in its function to prevent food from entering the nasal passage. In some cases, feeding and/or speech difficulties may result from these abnormalities. In addition, lack of a sufficient mucous coating on the vocal cords may contribute to speaking difficulties and can affect vocal quality.

Most infants with Rapp-Hodgkin syndrome have characteristic abnormalities affecting the hair. The scalp hair, which is often a blond or straw-like color, may be unusually sparse, dry, and/or coarse. Hair may grow slowly, appear flattened and twisted (pili torti), and be difficult to comb. Later in life, affected individuals may develop areas of patchy baldness (alopecia) at the back of the head (occiput). In some cases, scars or ulcer-like lesions may form on the scalp. In adults, premature baldness may affect both males and females. In addition, affected individuals may also have abnormally thin eyebrows and eyelashes and/or small, misshapen slow-growing fingernails and toenails (nail dysplasia).

In some cases, infants with Rapp-Hodgkin syndrome may develop frequent (recurrent) or prolonged (chronic) inflammation of the middle ear (otitis media), possibly due, in part, to cleft palate. In addition, affected infants may be born with ear canals that extremely narrow (e.g., slit-like) or closed (atretic). Affected individuals may experience hearing impairment of one or both ears.

Individuals with Rapp-Hodgkin syndrome may also have eye (ocular) abnormalities. The small openings in the inner corners of the eyelids where tears normally drain may be absent or fail to develop (lacrimal puncta agenesis or aplasia), as may the canals (lacrimal canaliculi or tear ducts) that carry tears from their site of origin (lacrimal glands) to the eyes. In some cases, aplasia of the lacrimal canaliculi may cause a sudden overflow of tears (epiphora). In addition, affected individuals may have droopy upper eyelids (ptosis) or be abnormally sensitive to light (photophobia). In some cases, the transparent, thin membrane that protects and helps lubricate the eyelids and whites of the eyes (conjunctiva) may become inflamed and discharge a pus-like fluid (purulent conjunctivitis).

Some males with Rapp-Hodgkin syndrome may exhibit misplacement of the urinary opening, such as on the underside of the penis (hypospadias). In females, there may be abnormalities of the skin folds (labia) of the external portion of female genitalia (vulva). In some cases, additional abnormalities may be present including short stature and/or webbing of two or more fingers and/or toes (syndactyly).


In most cases, Rapp-Hodgkin syndrome is inherited as an autosomal dominant trait. However, X-linked dominant inheritance has not been ruled out. Genetic diseases are determined by two genes, one received from the father and one from the mother.

Dominant genetic disorders occur when only a single copy of an abnormal gene is necessary for the appearance of the disease. The abnormal gene can be inherited from either parent, or can be the result of a new mutation (gene change) in the affected individual. The risk of passing the abnormal gene from affected parent to offspring is 50% for each pregnancy regardless of the sex of the resulting child.

Investigators have determined that some cases of Rapp-Hodgkin syndrome may be caused by disruption or changes (mutations) of the TP63 gene located on the long arm of (q) of chromosome 3 (3q27).

Chromosomes, which are present in the nucleus of human cells, carry the genetic information for each individual. Pairs of human chromosomes are numbered from 1 through 22, and an additional 23rd pair of sex chromosomes which include one X and one Y chromosome in males and two X chromosomes in females. Each chromosome has a short arm designated "p" and a long arm designated "q". Chromosomes are further sub-divided into many bands that are numbered. For example, "chromosome 3q27" refers to band 27 on the long arm of chromosome 3. The numbered bands specify the location of the thousands of genes that are present on each chromosome.

Affected Populations

Rapp-Hodgkin syndrome is an extremely rare inherited disorder that affects males and females in equal numbers. More than 40 cases have been reported in the medical literature, including several affected individuals within successive generations of certain families (kindreds). In some cases, symptoms and physical features associated with this disorder are apparent at birth (congenital). However, some cases may not become apparent until late infancy.

The exact prevalence of ectodermal dysplasias is unknown. One estimate placed the incidence at 7 infants per 10,000 births.

Standard Therapies


Rapp-Hodgkin syndrome may be suspected birth based upon a thorough clinical evaluation and identification of characteristic features, such as sparse, coarse hair; impaired ability to sweat (hypohidrosis); and/or cleft lip and/or palate. In most cases, a diagnosis is verified during late infancy when characteristic findings, such as changes in the hair and/or the observation of missing teeth (hypodontia or oligodentia) or abnormally small, misshapen teeth, become more pronounced.

The diagnosis of Rapp-Hodgkin syndrome may be confirmed by a variety of specialized tests. Microscopic examination of small samples of skin tissue (biopsy) may reveal abnormal thinning of the outer layer of the skin (epidermis) and absence of certain specialized structures normally located within the skin (e.g., sweat glands). An examination of hair under a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) may demonstrate abnormalities of the hair such as irregular canals running the length of the hair (pili canaliculi) and/or irregular twists. In some cases, pili canaliculi may have two canals (pili bicanaliculi). Examinations of hair using light that sends radiation waves in only one direction (polarizing light studies) may show alternating light and dark bands.


The treatment of Rapp-Hodgkin syndrome is directed toward the specific symptoms that are apparent in each individual. Treatment may require the coordinated efforts of a team of specialists. Pediatricians, surgeons, physicians who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the skin (dermatologists), specialists who assess and treat hearing problems (audiologists); dental specialists, eye specialists (ophthalmologists), and/or other health care professionals may need to systematically and comprehensively plan an affected child's treatment.

In some cases, reconstructive surgery may be beneficial for individuals with cleft palate and/or cleft lip. Dental surgery and/or corrective devices may be employed to treat misshapen teeth and, if teeth are missing, dentures may be appropriate. Affected individuals should also pay particular attention to the prevention of tooth decay. In addition, in some cases, speech therapy may also be helpful.

In cases where hearing impairment exists, hearing aids may be beneficial. Children with Rapp-Hodgkin syndrome should be monitored closely for signs of hyperthermia, particularly during periods of prolonged activity and/or during the summer months (i.e., high temperatures). Physicians may restrict the use of antihistamines as these drugs may promote further drying of the mucosal covering of the vocal chords.

Genetic counseling will be of benefit for affected individuals and their families. Family members of affected individuals should also receive regular clinical evaluations to detect any symptoms and physical characteristics that may be potentially associated with Rapp-Hodgkin syndrome. Other treatment is symptomatic and supportive.

Investigational Therapies

Information on current clinical trials is posted on the Internet at www.clinicaltrials.gov. All studies receiving U.S. government funding, and some supported by private industry, are posted on this government web site.

For information about clinical trials being conducted at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, MD, contact the NIH Patient Recruitment Office:

Tollfree: (800) 411-1222

TTY: (866) 411-1010

Email: prpl@cc.nih.gov

For information about clinical trials sponsored by private sources, contact:




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National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasias

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March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation

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Cleft Palate Foundation

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Tel: (919)933-9044

Fax: (919)933-9604

Tel: (800)242-5338

Email: info@cleftline.org

Internet: http://www.cleftline.org

NIH/National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Information Clearinghouse

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Tel: (301)495-4484

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NIH/National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research

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Craniofacial Foundation of America

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Tel: (423)778-9176

Fax: (423)778-8172

Tel: (800)418-3223

Email: terry.smyth@erlanger.org

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Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center

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Fax: (301)251-4911

Tel: (888)205-2311

TDD: (888)205-3223

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Ectodermal Dysplasia Society

Unit 1 Maida Vale Business Centre




England, GL53 7ER

United Kingdom

Tel: 4401242261332

Tel: 4407805775703

Email: diana@ectodermaldysplasia.org

Internet: http://www.ectodermaldysplasia.org

For a Complete Report

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