Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Temple syndrome: improving the recognition of an underdiagnosed chromosome 14 imprinting disorder: an analysis of 51 published cases
  1. Yiannis Ioannides1,
  2. Kemi Lokulo-Sodipe1,2,
  3. Deborah J G Mackay1,3,
  4. Justin H Davies1,4,
  5. I Karen Temple1,2
  1. 1Academic Unit of Human Development and Health, Human Genetics and Genomics Medicine group, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK
  2. 2Wessex Clinical Genetics Service, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Princess Anne Hospital, Southampton, UK
  3. 3Wessex Regional Genetics Laboratory, Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust, Salisbury, UK
  4. 4Department of Paediatric Endocrinology, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton, UK
  1. Correspondence to I Karen Temple, Wessex Clinical Genetics Service, Princess Anne Hospital, Coxford Road, Southampton, Hampshire SO16 5YA, UK; ikt{at}


Chromosome 14 harbours an imprinted locus at 14q32. Maternal uniparental disomy of chromosome 14, paternal deletions and loss of methylation at the intergenic differentially methylated region (IG-DMR) result in a human phenotype of low birth weight, hypotonia, early puberty and markedly short adult stature. The analysis of the world literature of 51 cases identifies the key features that will enhance diagnosis and potentially improve treatment. We found a median birth weight SD score (SDS) of −1.88 and median adult final height of −2.04 SDS. Hypotonia and motor delay were reported in 93% and 83% of cases, respectively. Early puberty was reported in 86% of cases with the mean age of menarche at 10 years and 2 months of age. Small hands and feet were reported frequently (87% and 96%, respectively). Premature birth was common (30%) and feeding difficulties frequently reported (n = 22). There was evidence of mildly reduced intellectual ability (measured IQ 75–95). Obesity was reported in 49% of cases, and three patients developed type 2 diabetes mellitus. Two patients were reported to have recurrent hypoglycaemia, and one of these patients was subsequently demonstrated to be growth hormone deficient and started replacement therapy. We propose the use of the name ‘Temple syndrome’ for this condition and suggest that improved diagnosis and long-term monitoring, especially of growth and cardiovascular risk factors, is required.

  • Imprinting
  • Temple syndrome
  • UPD14mat
  • chromosome 14q32
View Full Text

Statistics from



Temple syndrome (TS) is an imprinting disorder that was first described by Temple et al in 1991 in a report of a male aged 18 years with maternal uniparental disomy of chromosome 14.1

There is one known imprinted locus on human chromosome 14, at 14q32. Genomic imprinting is an epigenetic marking mechanism that regulates gene expression dependent on parent of origin. The chromosome 14 imprinted locus (figure 1) has a cluster of reciprocally imprinted genes; the protein coding genes DLK1, RTL1 and DIO3 are expressed from the paternal allele, while the imprinted genes expressed from the maternal allele are all non-coding RNAs (GTL2/MEG3, MEG8, RTL1as, multiple additional miRNAs and snoRNAs). Imprinted expression is controlled by a primary imprinting control region (ICR) (intergenic differentially methylated region or IG-DMR) located between DLK1 and GTL2/MEG3, which is normally methylated only on the paternal allele. The imprint on the IG-DMR is acquired in the male germline and subsequently directs acquisition of methylation on the paternal allele of a somatic DMR within the GTL2/MEG3. The unmethylated IG-DMR on the maternal allele is associated with expression of GTL2/MEG3 and RTL1as, one of whose functions is to repress expression of DLK1 and RTL1 in cis.

Figure 1

The imprinted region on chromosome 14q32 and expression of imprinted genes on the maternal allele (upper) and paternal allele (lower) for six genes. Note that DLK, RTL1 and DIO3 are expressed from the paternal allele and non-coding RNAs, GTL2/MEG3, MEG8 and RTL1as are expressed from the maternal allele. Two differentially methylated regions (DMRs) are shown with methylation on the paternal allele, IG-DMR, the germline DMR and MEG3-DMR.

TS is associated with dysregulation of expression of genes at this imprinted locus. This, in principle, can arise from four molecular causes: (i) chromosomal error (ie, uniparental disomy), (ii) copy number change (eg, deletions and duplications), (iii) mutation of expressed coding genes and (iv) epigenetic error (either secondary to a genetic mutation altering gene regulation or primary, ie, without apparent genetic cause). Maternal uniparental disomy of chromosome 14 (UPD14mat) is the most widely recognised cause of TS; it results in loss of expression of all paternally expressed genes and overexpression of maternally expressed genes within this domain. However, the study of rare TS patients with copy number changes enabled Kagami et al2 to confine the region of interest to a 108 kB paternal deletion involving DLK1 and GTL2/MEG3. The two patients with this deletion had many features of TS, but stature was more severely affected in a third reported case with a larger deletion (411 kB), which included RTL1 (but not DIO3). To our knowledge, silencing mutations in these genes have not been reported in humans, but in the mouse null mutations of DLK1 and RTL1 inherited from the male have TS features.3 ,4

There are not enough data as yet to draw out key medical differences between cases with a primary epigenetic aberration confined to the 14q32 IG-DMR (see figure 1) and patients with other causes of TS. In a murine model, hypomethylation of the IG-DMR resulted in reduced expression of DLK1.5 Therefore, all mechanisms are predicted to result in reduced expression of protein-coding imprinted genes from the paternal allele.

The lack of specific congenital malformations or widely used screening methods means that the disorder is likely underdiagnosed in clinical practice and there have been no studies to determine its prevalence. Cases have been coincindentally identified from cohorts of patients who test negative for Prader–Willi (4/33)6 and Russell–Silver syndromes (1/127) (PWS and RSS),7 and these are now considered in the differential diagnosis of TS.6

The use of the name Temple syndrome is not universal as yet, but Buiting et al8 suggested this after the first author of the first paper, rather than the somewhat cumbersome use of ‘maternal uniparental disomy of chromosome 14 related conditions’. We have evaluated 51 patient reports from the literature since the first report in 1991, until 2013. By bringing together this body of information, it is hoped that this paper will enhance the recognition of this underdiagnosed condition.


A PubMed search identified 38 articles with 52 cases from 11 countries.1 ,2 ,6 ,8–42 We excluded one case of a patient with a large deletion of 6.55 MB as this involved several genes and presented with a complex phenotype.38

All publications with UPD14mat, epimutations and paternal deletions at 14q32 were reviewed. Of the cases included, 43 full descriptions were available and 8 cases were described in abstracts. Forty cases were maternal UPD 14, six showed loss of methylation at the IG-DMR and five demonstrated a paternal deletion confined to the imprinted region.

We included all growth measurements from the reports against age. To adjust for the influence of age and gender on height and weight, standard deviation scores (SDSs) were used. In many papers, height and weight SDS were already reported but where only centiles were recorded these were converted to SDS values. If multiple growth measurements for an individual were available, these were converted to SDS and the mean value over 12 months of growth was used.

Clinical description

For each clinical feature in the text, prevalence is stated as both a percentage and the number of cases where that feature was present compared with the total number of cases where that feature was considered (see table 1).

Table 1

Clinical features frequently reported in 51 cases of Temple syndrome, subdivided by (epi)genotype


Poor growth in utero (intrauterine growth retardation) was documented in 75% of cases during pregnancy. The incidence of prematurity (born <37 weeks’ gestation) was high at 30% (12/40) and greater than that expected in the UK (6.2% quoted by the UK Office of National Statistics)43 or globally (9.6% estimated by the World Health Organisation).44

The median birth weight SDS was −1.88 (preterm and term), and none had a birth weight SDS >0. The median birth length SDS was −1.64 (total cohort). The median birth weight and length of preterm babies with TS was similar to those born at term (figure 2). During childhood (below 16 years), the majority of children had a height SDS <−1.0 (figure 3). The median final height SDS was −2.04.

Figure 2

Birth growth data: length (red) birth weight (green) and head circumference (blue) for preterm and term babies with Temple syndrome.

Figure 3

Height (red), weight (green) and head circumference (blue) from early childhood to adulthood in children with Temple syndrome.

Figure 3 shows weight, height and head circumference SDS from childhood to adulthood. The median final height SDS was −2.04 and the median adult weight SDS was −1.07, demonstrating a relatively greater weight for height in TS adults. The term ‘obesity’ was recorded in 49% of cases. However, the median BMI for patients >16 years of age was 26.6 kg/m2. BMI is shown for the whole cohort in figure 4.

Figure 4

Changes in BMI (kg/m2) in children with Temple syndrome throughout childhood.


It is possible that the improved height SDS (figure 3) in mid-childhood is related to early puberty with an accompanying pubertal growth spurt. However, the increase in weight SDS at 7–16 years was more marked than the increase in height SDS over the same time period. Early puberty was reported in 86%. There was no clear agreement among authors as to the way that puberty timing was assessed although some include Tanner stages. In eight females, the age of menarche was recorded and occurred at a mean age of 10 years 2 months with a range of 8–11 years. There are insufficient data to make conclusions with regard to whether premature puberty is linked to adrenarche or gonadotrophin-dependent puberty. Likewise, bone age was reported as delayed in younger ages and advanced in older children.

Head size

The median occiptofrontal circumference (OFC) SDS at birth was −0.8 (n=25) with an IQR from −1.28 to 0. The most severe case of microcephaly was that of Tohyama et al42 (−3.9 SDS), but the child was genetically atypical in that there was an additional marker chromosome and UPD14mat. Subsequently, head circumference was reported in 34 cases and the median head size SDS was below average except during late childhood. Hydrocephalus developing in the first few months of life was reported in four cases, which resolved spontaneously.1 ,10 ,11 ,29

Of note, relative macrocephaly (TS mean birth OFC SDS −0.8 with mean length SDS −1.68) is present in TS but is not as striking as seen in some other imprinting disorders, such as RSS. 55.9% demonstrated a difference in OFC SDS and height SDS of ≥1.0 (data not shown but taken from 68 patient measurements where both OFC and height or length were taken at the same time) compared with 70–90% in RSS.45 Furthermore, in RSS, patients frequently have a greater degree of relative macrocephaly and the definition used by Netchine et al46 was a difference in OFC SDS and birth weight or height SDS >1.5. In that study, 96% of patients with RSS caused by hypomethylation at the ICR 1, and 64.3% of patients with RSS and a normal ICR1, met this criterion. This review has found that in TS 39.7% of cases had relative macrocephaly with an SDS difference >1.5.

Neurological and developmental characteristics

The most consistent neurological finding in early childhood was truncal hypotonia, which was reported in the majority of patients (93%, 38/41). Motor delay was also recorded in 83% of patients (34/41) and scoliosis in 23% (7/30).

Developmental concerns were not limited to the motor systems however, and 59% were recorded to have had speech delay and 39% had some degree of ‘mental retardation’. IQ has been recorded in six reports and ranges in all but one from 75 to 95.9 ,10 ,23 ,25 ,26 ,42 Only one case was reported with severe global developmental delay and that case was atypical in that the female patient developed West syndrome and had a mosaic supernumerary marker chromosome including the gene FOXG1 in addition to maternal UPD 14.42 It is important to note, however, that 20/33 patients were reported as having no intellectual problems and indeed the first patient reported was applying to further education courses at the age of 18 years.1 The oldest patient reported was 62 years of age and had a child and grandchildren.2

Feeding difficulties

Twenty-two patients were reported with feeding difficulties/weak suck, although this feature was not mentioned in early reports of older patients. Of the 22 cases, 10 required tube feeding at least in the neonatal period.6 ,21–23 ,28 ,39 ,42 This aspect may have been underestimated in early reports. In some cases, it was noted that there was an appetite improvement after 4 years.6 ,39 One patient was reported to have ‘an insatiable appetite’ by 6 years and 9 months of age.39

In comparison, in Prader–Willi syndrome feeding problems in infancy are present in 78%47 (compared with 43% of the overall TS cases) and described as ‘almost always present’ before the development of hyperphagia between the ages of 1 and 4 years.48 The poor feeding in Prader Willi syndrome results from poor sucking, hypotonia as well as early fatigue and the requirement for assisted feeding is nearly universal during the first 4 to 6 months of life.49

Dysmorphic features

Although there was no consistent description in terms of ‘descriptors’ used by researchers in articles, there are facial similarities to many of the patients. Most notably patients have a broad, tall forehead. The nose is often short with a wide, fleshy nasal tip and a relatively short philtrum. Two cases reported almond-shaped eyes and several reported posteriorly rotated ears. Clinodactyly of the fifth finger was present in at least eight cases. Small hands and feet were recorded in 87% and 96% of cases, respectively, and is a useful indicator (see figure 5).

Figure 5

Photographs to show a patient with Temple syndrome due to maternal uniparental disomy of chromosome 14 (UPD14mat) as a teenager and as an adult. Note the small hands with clinodactyly. This patient has been reported in more detail by Cox et al,32 but these photos are in later life. The characteristic facial features include a broad, tall forehead, short nose with fleshy nasal tip and a relatively short philtrum.

In contrast to Prader–Willi syndrome, cryptorchidism was reported in only three males.1 ,12 ,23 Female genital anomalies were not reported.


Of 15 patients over the age of 11 years, 3 developed diabetes mellitus; at the ages of 12 years,6 19 years25 and 20 years.31 All three patients were described as having features of type 2 diabetes, and one case was confirmed as negative for antipancreatic antibodies. Where treatment was described, oral hypoglycaemics were effective.31 BMI was significantly raised in two of the three patients (BMI 40.86 and 30.825); however, the third had a normal BMI of 24.1.31

In contrast, two patients in the cohort were reported to have recurrent hypoglycaemia in early childhood (3–5 years).6 ,23 One of these patients subsequently was shown to be growth hormone deficient and was started on treatment.6 In the other patient, it was associated with a rapid gain in weight and ketosis.23

Five patients were reported with evidence of hyperlipidaemia, hypertriglyceridaemia in one6 and hypercholesterolaemia in the others,10 ,11 ,18 ,25 although in one case there was a strong family history.10 One patient with hyperlipidaemia6 and one with hypercholesterolaemia25 were also diagnosed with diabetes (see above).

Associated features

There were relatively few congenital anomalies recognised at birth. Early reports of TS highlighted scoliosis and hydrocephalus; however, in this review, these features were found in only 20% (6/30) and 11% (4/35), respectively.

Only two patients have been reported with cleft palate/bifid uvula,1 ,13 although several were reported to have high palates. Recurrent otitis media has previously been reported in TS. In this review, ear infections were commonly reported (nine patients).


Among the cohort we have evidence of two patients who died in the first year of life; one with renal failure29 and the other from an incarcerated inguinal hernia.27 One patient developed a renal cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma of the stomach by the age of 44 years.8


The treatment described in four cases was as follows: two patients were given growth hormone,6 ,42 but in only one of these cases was the child shown to be growth hormone deficient.6 A lutenising hormone releasing hormone (LHRH) agonist was given to one patient,6 and Leuprolide, a long-acting gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) analogue, was given to one patient to delay puberty.35 One patient required oral diabetes treatment to control hyperglycaemia,31 and one patient required adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) and clobazam to treat epilepsy.42 Of the remaining cases, no other treatment was reported.


No optimal surveillance programme has been established in this condition. However, from the data, it is clear that patients should be monitored lifelong for height, weight and cardiovascular risk factors until the natural history is clearly delineated. Control trials are required to determine whether growth hormone and/or delaying puberty has an impact on final height.

Genotype–phenotype differences

See table 1. There is limited information to be gained from such a review as the numbers of patients with epigenetic aberrations and paternal deletions are low. However, of interest, premature delivery was seen only in maternal UPD 14 cases. Speech delay was reported in 100% of cases with an epigenetic or paternal deletion compared with 45% in cases with maternal UPD 14. Note that patients with normal intellect were reported in all three subgroups.

Differential diagnosis

There is clinical overlap between TS and other imprinting disorders. Many papers have reported similarities to Prader–Willi syndrome.6 ,32 More recently overlap with RSS is discussed.7 A table comparing features of TS and RSS (see table 2) shows that relative asymmetry is a useful discriminator and more common in RSS. The facial appearance of patients with TS differs from that of RSS, particularly with regard to the shape of the nose. Also, relative macrocephaly is seen more commonly and to a greater degree in RSS, but is also a feature in some patients with TS. However of note, final height in TS is also significantly reduced, similar to that seen in RSS. Poole and Azzi have shown that in a proportion of cases of RSS there is also loss of methylation at the TS locus7 ,50 and yet this has not been assessed in the majority of older reports of RSS.

Table 2

Clinical features of Temple syndrome obtained from literature review, expressed as percentages (bold denotes result where positive and negative findings available, otherwise percentages calculated from positive results compared with whole cohort)

Clinical testing

It can be difficult at presentation to distinguish TS from other causes of neonatal hypotonia and failure to thrive. Genetic testing based on ratiometric measurement of methylated and unmethylated DNA within the DMR can be used as a screening test. 14q32 testing should be included in the first-line testing for children presenting with intrauterine growth retardation, hypotonia and poor feeding. In view of the overlap with Prader–Willi syndrome, TS testing should be performed in all cases of neonatal hypotonia. TS should also be considered as a cause of early puberty and unexplained proportional short stature.


TS is a short stature disorder of imprinting. The cardinal features are low birth weight, hypotonia and motor delay, feeding problems in early life, early puberty and significantly reduced final height. Facial features include a broad forehead and short nose with a wide nasal tip and the majority of people have small hands and feet. However, many of the clinical features are non-specific and diagnosis can be difficult in early childhood or adulthood. It is important to note that isodisomy may reveal recessive disorders and this may influence the phenotype in UPD14mat cases.

The long-term outcome is still not fully known, although over half are reported with truncal obesity and with three reports of patients with early onset type 2 diabetes there may well be an increased risk of the metabolic syndrome as with other imprinting disorders.

While developmental outcome is of huge importance, only modest conclusions can be drawn from these retrospective data. Some patients are reported as having normal intellectual development, but given that measured IQs are within the low normal range, it is possible that this condition skews intellectual attainment downwards.

Although the condition can be stratified by (epi)genotype, there are not enough cases to make key observations. This may be possible in the future if an easy screening test for this condition is used more extensively.


KL-S is supported by a NIHR Research for Patient Benefit grant. KL-S, DJGM and IKT are members of the COST Action BM1208.


View Abstract


  • YI and KL-S contributed equally to this work.

  • Contributors YI performed the literature search and acquired and analysed all the data. KL-S performed the literature search, acquired and interpreted data, completed the final editing, revisions and submission. IKT designed the review, interpreted the data. YI, KL-S and IKT wrote the first draft of the article. DJGM and JHD interpreted data, reviewed and revised the article. All authors approved the final version. IKT is the guarantor of the work.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.