Background Large deletions of the NF1 gene region occur in ∼5% of patients with neurofibromatosis type-1 (NF1) and are associated with particularly severe manifestations of the disease. However, until now, the genotype–phenotype relationship has not been comprehensively studied in patients harbouring large NF1 gene deletions of comparable extent (giving rise to haploinsufficiency of the same genes).
Method We have performed the most comprehensive clinical/neuropsychological characterisation so far undertaken in NF1 deletion patients, involving 29 patients with precisely determined type-1 NF1 (1.4 Mb) deletions.
Results Novel clinical features found to be associated with type-1 NF1 deletions included pes cavus (17% of patients), bone cysts (50%), attention deficit (73%), muscular hypotonia (45%) and speech difficulties (48%). Type-1 NF1 deletions were found to be disproportionately associated with facial dysmorphic features (90% of patients), tall stature (46%), large hands and feet (46%), scoliosis (43%), joint hyperflexibility (72%), delayed cognitive development and/or learning disabilities (93%) and mental retardation (IQ<70; 38%), as compared with the general NF1 patient population. Significantly increased frequencies (relative to the general NF1 population) of plexiform neurofibromas (76%), subcutaneous neurofibromas (76%), spinal neurofibromas (64%) and MPNSTs (21%) were also noted in the type-1 deletion patients. Further, 50% of the adult patients exhibited a very high burden of cutaneous neurofibromas (N≥1000).
Conclusion These findings emphasise the importance of deletion analysis in NF1 since frequent monitoring of tumour presence and growth could potentiate early surgical intervention thereby improving patient survival.
- Neurofibromatosis type 1
- NF1 microdeletions
- genotype–phenotype correlation
- hereditary cancer syndrome
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