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LEOPARD Syndrome Clinical Presentation

  • Author: Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
Updated: Jun 22, 2016


Highly variable expressivity of the syndrome makes the diagnosis difficult, especially in sporadic patients. Seventy percent of reported cases are familial. Based on clinical analysis of a large series of patients collected from the literature, in 1976 Voron et al proposed minimum criteria for the diagnosis.[14]

Multiple lentigines must be present.

Features of at least two of the following other categories must be present:

  • Other cutaneous abnormalities
  • Cardiac structural or electrocardiographic abnormalities
  • Genitourinary abnormalities
  • Endocrine abnormalities
  • Neurologic defects
  • Cephalofacial dysmorphism
  • Shortness of stature
  • Skeletal abnormalities

If lentigines are absent, a diagnosis of LEOPARD syndrome may be established if the patient has features in at least 3 above-mentioned categories and has an immediate relative with the defined diagnosis.

Diagnosis of LEOPARD syndrome is very difficult in small children. According to Digilio et al, the diagnosis can be clinically suspected in the first months of life in patients who have 3 main features: characteristic facial features (100%), hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (87%), and café au lait spots (75%).[15]



Lentigines are small, dark brown, polygonal, irregularly shaped macules, usually 2-5 mm in diameter, but sometimes larger, even up to 1-1.5 cm. These large and darkly pigmented lesions are called by some authors café noir spots, by analogy to café au lait spots observed in neurofibromatosis type 1.[16]

They are often present on the face, neck, and upper part of the trunk but also on the palms, soles, and the sclerae as shown in the images below.

Lentigines on the sclerae in a child with LEOPARD Lentigines on the sclerae in a child with LEOPARD syndrome.
Area of disordered pigmentation on the trunk of a Area of disordered pigmentation on the trunk of a patient with LEOPARD syndrome.

Lentigines are the most prominent manifestation of the LEOPARD syndrome and are present in more than 90% of the patients; however, an absence of the feature does not exclude the diagnosis of the syndrome. Speculation about generalized lentiginosis always being a part of the spectrum of LEOPARD syndrome have been recently weakened by a study from Xing et al,[17] who mapped familial generalized lentiginosis without systemic involvement to band 4q21.1-q22.3.

On careful skin examination, other cutaneous abnormalities may be detected, such as the following:

  • Axillary freckling
  • Café au lait spots
  • Localized hypopigmentation
  • Onychodystrophy (see the image below)
    Onychodystrophy in a child with LEOPARD syndrome. Onychodystrophy in a child with LEOPARD syndrome.
  • Interdigital webs
  • Hyperelastic skin

Multiple granular cell tumors have been observed with LEOPARD syndrome.[18]

Mental retardation, usually of mild degree, is observed in about 30% of the affected persons.

About 25% of patients have sensorineural hearing loss.

Seizures, nystagmus, or hyposmia have been documented in a few patients.

One third of the patients demonstrate short stature (in 20% of the cases below third percentile), which seems to become evident soon after birth (most newborns are of normal birth weight).

Despite frequent cardiac involvement, most patients are asymptomatic, and findings upon routine physical examinations may be negative. Interestingly, a higher frequency of family history of sudden death and atrial fibrillation has been reported in patients with left ventricular hypertrophy without PTPN11 mutations.[19] A comprehensive review of 26 patients with LEOPARD syndrome documented left ventricular hypertrophy in 19 patients (73%) and right ventricular hypertrophy in 8 patients (30%). Long-term prognosis was overall benign, but the occurrence of 4 fatal events in patients with left ventricular hypertrophy indicates that such patients require careful risk assessment.[20]

In 2004, Yagubyan et al reported a patient with recurrent upper extremity aneurysms that required multiple operations.[21] This patient also had multiple other peripheral aneurysms, thus far asymptomatic. Abnormal, extremely elongated vertebral and basilar arteries have also been reported.[22]

About 35% of the patients demonstrate various cephalofacial findings. Ocular hypertelorism was the most frequently reported (25%). Other findings include the following:

  • Mandibular prognathism
  • Broad nasal root
  • Dysmorphic skull
  • Low-set ears
  • Dental abnormalities
  • High palate arch
  • Epicanthal folds
  • Ptosis
  • Corneal tumors

Developmental anomalies of the genitourinary system are described in 26% of patients, predominantly in men. Abnormalities of the external genitals, such as cryptorchidism or hypospadias, may be observed on physical examination.

Different types of skeletal anomalies have been documented in affected patients, including chest deformity (pectus excavatum, pectus carinatum), kyphoscoliosis, winging of the scapulae, rib anomalies, syndactyly, delayed development or agenesis of permanent teeth, or supernumerary teeth.

In 2004, Rudolph et al reported colobomas of the iris, the retina, and the choroid in 3 members of one family.[23]

LEOPARD syndrome may be associated with hypertrophic plexuses, possibly leading to neuropathic pain.[24]



Familial cases suggest an autosomal dominant mode of inheritance with variable expressivity.[25] Speculation exists on the more severe course of the disease in males, which may partially explain the slight preponderance of men in the large collected series of Voron et al in 1976.[14]



Complications may arise due to associated abnormalities.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH Professor and Head of Dermatology, Professor of Pathology, Pediatrics, Medicine, and Preventive Medicine and Community Health, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School; Visiting Professor, Rutgers University School of Public Affairs and Administration

Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, New York Academy of Medicine, American Academy of Dermatology, American College of Physicians, Sigma Xi

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Sergiusz Jozwiak, MD, PhD Professor and Head of Pediatric Neurology, Warsaw Medical University, Poland

Sergiusz Jozwiak, MD, PhD is a member of the following medical societies: Sigma Xi

Disclosure: Received honoraria from Novartis for speaking and teaching.

Specialty Editor Board

Richard P Vinson, MD Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Dermatology, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Paul L Foster School of Medicine; Consulting Staff, Mountain View Dermatology, PA

Richard P Vinson, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, Texas Medical Association, Association of Military Dermatologists, Texas Dermatological Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Jeffrey Meffert, MD Associate Clinical Professor of Dermatology, University of Texas School of Medicine at San Antonio

Jeffrey Meffert, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, American Medical Association, Association of Military Dermatologists, Texas Dermatological Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

William D James, MD Paul R Gross Professor of Dermatology, Vice-Chairman, Residency Program Director, Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

William D James, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, Society for Investigative Dermatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

James J Nordlund, MD Professor Emeritus, Department of Dermatology, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine

James J Nordlund, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, Sigma Xi, Society for Investigative Dermatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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Multiple lentigines on the face of a child with LEOPARD syndrome.
Lentigines on the sclerae in a child with LEOPARD syndrome.
Area of disordered pigmentation on the trunk of a patient with LEOPARD syndrome.
Onychodystrophy in a child with LEOPARD syndrome.
Multiple, small lentigines evenly distributed over the trunk of an adult female with LEOPARD syndrome.
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