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Original research
Phenotype and genotype spectra of a Chinese cohort with nephronophthisis-related ciliopathy


Background Nephronophthisis-related ciliopathies (NPHP-RC) account for the majority of cases of monogenetically caused end-stage renal disease (ESRD) in children. Exploring the correlation between the phenotype and genotype of NPHP-RC is helpful for early diagnosis and management. We investigated the phenotype and genotype spectra of NPHP-RC in a Chinese multicentre cohort.

Methods Crosss-ectional and longitudinal data of 60 patients from 57 families with pathogenic NPHP-RC gene mutations distributed in 22 regions of China were collected into a unified, anonymous database. The mean observation time of this cohort was 3.5±3.1 years.

Results Mutations in NPHP1 and NPHP3 were the most common genetic defects. Overall, 45% of patients presented with isolated nephronophthisis (NPH), and 55% exhibited the extrarenal phenotype, which frequently involved the liver (41.7%, n=25), central nervous system (26.7%, n=16), eyes (26.7%, n=16) and skeletal system (11.7%, n=7). Accidental detection of elevated serum creatinine and non-specific symptoms caused by chronic kidney disease occurred in 65% of patients. Patients carrying NPHP1 mutations mainly presented with isolated NPH (90%, 18/20) and progressed to ESRD at a mean age of 12.9±0.5 years. The mean age of ESRD onset in the non-NPHP1 group was lower than that in the NPHP1 group (6.2±1.4 years, p<0.001), especially for patients carrying NPHP3 mutations (3.1±1.2 years), showing a heterogeneous phenotype characterised by Bardet-Biedl syndrome (12.5%, n=5), Joubert syndrome (7.5%, n=3), COACH syndrome (2.5%, n=1), Mainzer-Saldino syndrome (2.5%, n=1), short-rib thoracic dysplasia (2.5%, n=1) and unclassified symptoms (32.5%, n=13).

Conclusions The Chinese Children Genetic Kidney Disease Database registry characterised the spectrum of the phenotype and genotype of NPHP-RC in the Chinese population. NPHP1 and NPHP3 were the most common pathogenic genes. Rapid progression to ESRD and liver involvement were noted in patients with NPHP3 mutations.

  • genetics
  • medical
  • nephrology
  • child health
  • phenotype

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request. The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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