Pulmonary Alveolar Microlithiasis - A Review

Asbjørn Enemark*, Åsa Lina M. Jönsson, Sissel Kronborg-White, Elisabeth Bendstrup

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review


Pulmonary Alveolar Microlithiasis (PAM) is a rare genetic disorder causing widespread deposition of calcium-phosphate crystals in the alveolar space. A hallmark of the disease is the discrepancy between perceived symptoms upon diagnosis compared with the extensive, sandstorm-like appearance of the microliths on chest X-ray or HRCT. Caused by a defective sodium-dependent phosphate transport protein due to loss-of-function variants of the SLC34A2 gene, PAM is an autosomal recessive transmitted disorder, and as such has a high correlation to consanguinity. The most common variants of the SLC34A2 gene are single nucleotide biallelic changes, but larger deletions are described. Initial suspicion of PAM on radiological examination should be followed by genetic testing to verify the diagnosis and identify the disease-causing variant. When not available, the diagnosis can be made by means of invasive techniques, such as transbronchial forceps or cryobiopsy, or a surgical lung biopsy. In families with a history of PAM, genetic counseling should be offered, as well as preimplantation/prenatal testing if necessary. As of writing this review, no definitive treatment exists, and PAM may in some cases progress to severe pulmonary disease with respiratory failure and potential death. Patients with PAM should be offered preventative and symptomatic treatments such as vaccinations and oxygen therapy when needed. In some cases, lung transplantation may be required.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Yale journal of biology and medicine
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)637-644
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

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