Aim: Klinefelter syndrome (KS) is the most frequent sex chromosome disorder in males, but the phenotype varies greatly and is therefore highly under-diagnosed. We aimed at describing the phenotypic characteristics throughout life from clinical follow-up of our large cohort of patients with KS.
Methods: A retrospective observational study of 166 males with nonmosaic 47,XXY KS aged 0.3–80.3 years. Data on phenotype, growth, body composition, bone mineral density, sex hormones, lipids, glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA1C) and prostate-specific antigen were recorded. In addition, histological examination of testicular biopsies from 29 patients was performed.
Results: Patients with Klinefelter were taller already in childhood. All patients had smaller testicular volume and elevated luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone levels in adulthood. Cryptorchidism was reported in 14%, gynaecomastia in 44%, and 36% required speech therapy or educational support. The abnormal biochemical parameters became evident after onset of puberty and correlated with histological findings of a gradual deterioration of seminiferous tubules and massive Leydig cell hyperplasia in adults.
Conclusion: Our patients presented with a wide spectrum of the classical Klinefelter symptoms. In adulthood, two features were consistently present in every patient: small testes and high LH/testosterone ratio, often despite normal testosterone levels. Such biochemical parameters combined with small testes should lead to a suspicion of KS.