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48,XXYY syndrome is a condition related to the X and Y chromosomes (the sex chromosomes). People normally have 46 chromosomes in each cell. Two of the 46 chromosomes, known as X and Y, are called sex chromosomes because they help determine whether a person will develop male or female sex characteristics. Females typically have two X chromosomes (46,XX), and males have one X chromosome and one Y chromosome (46,XY). 48,XXYY syndrome results from the presence of an extra copy of both sex chromosomes in each of a male's cells (48,XXYY). Extra copies of genes on the X chromosome interfere with male sexual development, preventing the testes from functioning normally and reducing the levels of testosterone. Many genes are found only on the X or Y chromosome, but genes in areas known as the pseudoautosomal regions are present on both sex chromosomes. Extra copies of genes from the pseudoautosomal regions of the extra X and Y chromosome contribute to the signs and symptoms of 48,XXYY syndrome; however, the specific genes have not been identified.

In a small percentage of cases, 48,XXYY syndrome results from nondisjunction of the sex chromosomes in a 46,XY embryo very soon after fertilization has occurred. This means that a normal sperm cell with one Y chromosome fertilized a normal egg cell with one X chromosome, but right after fertilization, nondisjunction of the sex chromosomes caused the embryo to gain two extra sex chromosomes, resulting in a 48,XXYY embryo. [2]

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