The term Klinefelter syndrome (KS) describes a group of chromosomal disorder in which there is at least one extra X chromosome to a normal male karyotype, 46,XY. XXY aneuploidy is the most common disorder of sex chromosomes in humans, with prevalence of one in 500 males. Other sex chromosomal aneuploidies have also been described, although they are much less frequent, with 48,XXYY and 48,XXXY being present in 1 per 17,000 to 1 per 50,000 male births. The incidence of 49,XXXXY is 1 per 85,000 to 100,000 male births. In addition, 46,XX males also exist and it is caused by translocation of Y material including sex determining region (SRY) to the X chromosome during paternal meiosis. Formal cytogenetic analysis is necessary to make a definite diagnosis, and more obvious differences in physical features tend to be associated with increasing numbers of sex chromosomes. If the diagnosis is not made prenatally, 47,XXY males may present with a variety of subtle clinical signs that are age-related. In infancy, males with 47,XXY may have chromosomal evaluations done for hypospadias, small phallus or cryptorchidism, developmental delay. The school-aged child may present with language delay, learning disabilities, or behavioral problems. The older child or adolescent may be discovered during an endocrine evaluation for delayed or incomplete pubertal development with eunuchoid body habitus, gynecomastia, and small testes. Adults are often evaluated for infertility or breast malignancy. Androgen replacement therapy should begin at puberty, around age 12 years, in increasing dosage sufficient to maintain age appropriate serum concentrations of testosterone, estradiol, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), and luteinizing hormone (LH). The effects on physical and cognitive development increase with the number of extra Xs, and each extra X is associated with an intelligence quotient (IQ) decrease of approximately 15–16 points, with language most affected, particularly expressive language skills.
Authors: Jeannie Visootsak1 and John M Graham, Jr2