Williams Syndrome Strength, Hormones, Activity & Adiposity, DNA Programming, Eating Study


Williams syndrome (WS) is a rare microdeletion genetic disorder that has a broad phenotype including many endocrine and metabolic abnormalities. Dr. Pober and colleagues at MGH have reported the following findings in adults with WS: abnormal body composition (excess body fat accumulation with a lipedema phenotype), decreased bone mineral density, abnormal glucose tolerance, and reduced lean mass. Despite the high prevalence and potential effect of metabolic abnormalities on the health of persons with WS, their full phenotypic range, potential causal factors (either genetic and/or hormonal) along with their impact on other aspects of health (such as risk of falls and fractures or interaction with emotional behavioral concerns) remain incompletely characterized. The purpose of the current study in a large cohort of subjects with WS is to: collect further information to characterize the timing of onset and distribution of body fat; better characterize hormonal status of WS subjects; and screen for genetic variation using single-nucleotide-polymorphism (SNP) analysis that could elucidate genetic contributors to the lipedema phenotype as well as the other observed metabolic and bone abnormalities.

Full Title of Study: “Williams Syndrome SHAAPE STUDY [Strength, Hormones, Activity & Adiposity, DNA Programming, Eating Study]”

Study Type

  • Study Type: Observational
  • Study Design
    • Time Perspective: Cross-Sectional
  • Study Primary Completion Date: June 30, 2021

Arms, Groups and Cohorts

  • Williams syndrome – Onsite participation
    • Individuals with Williams syndrome who will participate in the study at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH)
  • Williams syndrome – Convention participation
    • Individuals with Williams syndrome (WS) who will have a more limited evaluation at a convention focusing on WS, such as the WS Association convention.
  • Williams syndrome – Remote participation
    • Individuals with Williams syndrome (WS) who will participate in the study remotely by filling out a questionnaire and providing information by mail.
  • Healthy Controls
    • Healthy individuals without Williams syndrome who will participate in the study at the Massachusetts General Hospital

Clinical Trial Outcome Measures

Primary Measures

  • Bone Mineral Density – Lumbar Spine
    • Time Frame: baseline only
  • Whole Body DEXA (dual energy x-ray absorptiometry) scan
    • Time Frame: baseline only
    • To assess body proportions of fat, bone, and muscle

Secondary Measures

  • Bone Mineral Density – Hip
    • Time Frame: baseline only
  • Resting energy expenditure
    • Time Frame: baseline only
  • Serum Total Testosterone
    • Time Frame: baseline only
  • Serum Estrogen
    • Time Frame: baseline only
  • Fasting blood sugar and Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT)
    • Time Frame: baseline only

Participating in This Clinical Trial

For those participating in-person at Massachusetts General Hospital: Inclusion Criteria 1. Male or Female age 18-70 years old 2. Diagnosis of Williams syndrome (WS), established by experienced clinician, parent report, or confirmed by genetic testing such as FISH (fluorescent in situ hybridization) or chromosomal microarray (WS only) 3. Availability of a parent or guardian to review details of the study with their family member with WS and participate in the consent process (all WS regardless of age) 4. Availability of a parent or guardian to provide selected medical information (WS only) Exclusion Criteria 1. History of weight loss surgery or liposuction 2. Positive urine pregnancy test (females only) 3. Obesity or abnormal fat distribution due to a known secondary cause (except WS) such as Cushing syndrome, HIV-infection, etc.

Gender Eligibility: All

Minimum Age: 18 Years

Maximum Age: 70 Years

Are Healthy Volunteers Accepted: Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Investigator Details

  • Lead Sponsor
    • Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Collaborator
    • Williams Syndrome Association
  • Provider of Information About this Clinical Study
    • Principal Investigator: Barbara R. Pober, Geneticist, MGH and Professor of Pediatrics (Emeritus), Harvard Medical School – Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Overall Contact(s)
    • Barbara Pober, MD, 617-726-1561, pober.barbara@mgh.harvard.edu

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