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Cystic fibrosis carrier frequencies in populations of African origin
  1. Carolyn Padoa,
  2. Andrea Goldman,
  3. Trefor Jenkins,
  4. Michele Ramsay
  1. Department of Human Genetics, School of Pathology, The South African Institute for Medical Research, and University of the Witwatersrand, PO Box 1038, Johannesburg 2000, South Africa
  1. Dr Ramsay.


Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a common autosomal recessive disorder in populations of European descent. However, very little is known about CF in populations of African origin among whom it has been believed to be extremely rare. The aim of this study was to determine if this is the case or whether it is under-reported. A CFTR mutation, 3120+1G→A, which was first reported in three African-American CF patients, has been shown to account for 9-14% of African-American CF chromosomes. It has also been found in 4/6 CF chromosomes in South African blacks and one CF chromosome of Cameroonian origin. In order to determine the carrier frequency of the 3120+1G→A mutation in Africa, 1360 unrelated, healthy subjects were screened. Nine carriers were identified. In addition, two out of five black CF patients with positive sweat tests were found to be heterozygous for the 3120+1G→A mutation and two out of another four black patients with symptoms suggestive of CF, but unconfirmed by sweat tests, were heterozygous for the D1270N mutation. A further three CFTR mutations, A559T, S1255X, and 444delA, which had been found in African-American CF patients, were not identified in the patients or in over 373 healthy subjects tested. The 3120+1G→A mutation has a carrier frequency of 1 in 91 (8/728) in South African blacks with a 95% confidence interval of 1 in 46 to 1 in 197. Since this mutation accounts for between 15% and 65% of CF chromosomes in South African blacks, a corrected CF carrier frequency would be between 1 in 14 and 1 in 59. Hence, the incidence of CF would be predicted to be between 1 in 784 and 1 in 13 924 births in this population. There are several possible reasons why these people are not being detected. Some of these are misdiagnosis as chronic pulmonary infection, malnutrition, tuberculosis, infantile diarrhoea, failure to thrive, or a high infant mortality rate.

  • CF
  • African blacks
  • 3120+1G→A mutation
  • heterozygote frequencies

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