Jervell and Lange-Nielsen syndrome (JLNS) is characterized by congenital profound bilateral sensorineural hearing loss and long QTc, usually greater than 500 msec. Prolongation of the QTc interval is associated with tachyarrhythmias, including ventricular tachycardia, episodes of torsade de pointes ventricular tachycardia, and ventricular fibrillation, which may culminate in syncope or sudden death. Iron-deficient anemia and elevated levels of gastrin are also frequent features of JLNS. The classic presentation of JLNS is a deaf child who experiences syncopal episodes during periods of stress, exercise, or fright. Fifty percent of individuals with JLNS had cardiac events before age three years. More than half of untreated children with JLNS die prior to age 15 years.
The diagnosis of JLNS is established in a child with congenital sensorineural deafness, long QT interval, and presence of two pathogenic variants in either KCNQ1 or KCNE1, the only two genes in which pathogenic variants are known to cause JLNS.
Treatment of manifestations: Cochlear implantation to treat hearing loss; beta-adrenergic blockers for long QT interval (note: the efficacy of beta-blocker treatment is only partial); implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) for those with a history of cardiac arrest and/or failure to respond to other treatments; standard treatment for those with iron-deficiency anemia.
Prevention of secondary complications: Special precautions during anesthesia are necessary because of the increased risk for cardiac arrhythmia.
Surveillance: Beta-blocker dose should be regularly assessed for efficacy and adverse effects, with evaluation every three to six months during rapid growth phases; periodic evaluations of ICDs for inappropriate shocks and pocket or lead complications.
Agents/circumstances to avoid: Drugs that cause further prolongation of the QT interval; activities known to precipitate syncopal events in persons with long QT syndrome.
Evaluation of relatives at risk: Hearing evaluation by standard newborn hearing screening programs and electrocardiograms for at-risk sibs; molecular genetic testing to confirm the diagnosis if the pathogenic variants in an affected family member are known.
Pregnancy management: Consideration should be given as to whether a mother who has a fetus affected with JLNS herself has long QT syndrome.
Other: Train family members in cardiopulmonary resuscitation; wear an ID bracelet explaining the diagnosis; notify local emergency medical services of high-risk persons with JLNS.
JLNS is inherited in an autosomal recessive manner. Parents of a child with JLNS are usually heterozygotes; rarely, only one parent is a carrier and the other mutation is de novo. Parents may or may not have the long QT syndrome (LQTS) phenotype. At conception, each sib of an affected individual usually has a 25% chance of being affected with JLNS, a 50% chance of being a carrier of a JLNS pathogenic variant and at risk for LQTS, and a 25% chance of being unaffected and not a carrier. Carrier testing for at-risk relatives and prenatal testing for pregnancies at increased risk are possible if the pathogenic variants in the family are known.
The diagnosis of Jervell and Lange-Nielsen syndrome (JLNS) is definitively established in individuals with all of the following:
- Congenital sensorineural deafness
- Long QT interval, often manifest as syncope, most often elicited by emotion or exercise
- Presence of biallelic pathogenic variants in either KCNQ1 or KCNE1 [Priori et al 1999]
Hearing loss. All individuals with molecularly confirmed JLNS have profound congenital sensorineural deafness (see Deafness and Hereditary Hearing Loss Overview).
Long QTc. Based on existing diagnostic criteria, all individuals with JLNS have a QTc interval greater than 500 msec (average 550 msec), indicating increased time for ventricular depolarization and repolarization [Tyson et al 2000, Winbo et al 2012, Winbo et al 2014]. Generally, the upper limit of normal for the QTc is 440 msec for males and 460 msec for post-pubertal females [Priori et al 1999, Allan et al 2001].
Note: (1) In the "pre-molecular" era, diagnosis of JLNS relied on clinical criteria alone, and thus it is not currently known how many children with molecularly confirmed JLNS have a borderline QTc interval prolongation of 440 msec to 500 msec or how many children with molecularly confirmed JLNS have a QTc that falls within the "normal" range. This issue will be resolved as data on more affected individuals are gathered. A review by Schwartz et al  gives a comprehensive summary of the natural history, molecular basis, and clinical characteristics of 186 affected individuals from 135 families, in whom pathogenic variants were identified in 63 (47%). (2) Hearing loss commonly occurs in the setting of familial long QT syndrome (LQTS) (see Romano-Ward Syndrome). In this situation, the hearing loss may be entirely unrelated to the etiology of the LQTS, particularly if the hearing loss is moderate.
Molecular Genetic Testing
To confirm/establish the diagnosis in a proband
One genetic testing strategy is serial single-gene molecular genetic testing based on the order in which pathogenic variants most commonly occur and/or the individual’s ethnicity.
- The most common strategy for molecular diagnosis of a proband suspected of having JLNS is sequence analysis of KCNQ1.
- If only one pathogenic variant is identified through sequence analysis, deletion/duplication analysis of KCNQ1 should be considered next.
- If only one or no pathogenic variant in KCNQ1 is identified through molecular genetic testing, sequencing of KCNE1 is appropriate.
An alternative genetic testing strategy is use of a multi-gene panel that includes KCNQ1, KCNE1, and other genes of interest (see Differential Diagnosis). Note: The genes included and the methods used in multi-gene panels vary by laboratory and over time.
Genomic testing. If serial single-gene testing (and/or use of a multi-gene panel) has not confirmed a diagnosis in an individual with features of JLNS, genomic testing may be considered. Such testing may include whole exome sequencing (WES), whole genome sequencing (WGS), and whole mitochondrial sequencing (WMitoSeq).
Notes regarding WES and WGS: (1) False negative rates vary by genomic region; therefore, genomic testing may not be as accurate as targeted single gene testing or multi-gene molecular genetic testing panels; (2) most laboratories confirm positive results using a second, well-established method; (3) nucleotide repeat expansions and epigenetic alterations cannot be detected; (4) deletions/duplications larger than 8-10 nucleotides are not detected effectively [Biesecker & Green 2014].
Notes regarding WmitoSeq: (1) Pathogenic mtDNA variants present at low levels of heteroplasmy in blood may not be detected in DNA extracted from blood and may require DNA extracted from skeletal muscle; (2) mtDNA deletions/duplications may not be detected effectively.
Homozygotes. Deafness is congenital, bilateral, profound, and sensorineural in all individuals with molecularly confirmed Jervell and Lange-Nielsen syndrome (JLNS) (see Deafness and Hereditary Hearing Loss Overview).
Abnormal cardiac depolarization and repolarization may result in prolongation of the QT interval and tachyarrhythmias (including ventricular tachycardia, episodes of torsade de pointes ventricular tachycardia, and ventricular fibrillation), which may culminate in syncope or sudden death. The classic presentation of JLNS is a deaf child who experiences syncopal episodes during periods of stress, exercise, or fright.
In the Schwartz et al  study of 135 families with JLNS, the QTc was markedly prolonged (557±65 msec); 50% of individuals had cardiac events before age three years, with emotions and exercise being the primary triggers. Note, however, that selection bias for severely affected individuals cannot be excluded: individuals with putative JLNS but no clinical manifestations other than deafness until adulthood (and to age 50 years in one case) have been described.
QTc prolongation in JLNS, particularly when severe, appears to be associated with increased risk for death in infancy (SIDS). Although more than half of untreated children with JLNS die prior to age 15 years, some individuals are reported to have survived several syncopal episodes during adulthood.
A high frequency of individuals with KCNQ1-related JLNS have iron deficiency anemia and hypergastrinemia [Winbo et al 2013]. This may be due to loss of the KCNQ1 potassium channels and reduced gastric acid secretion. The study by Winbo et al  confirms previous anecdotal reports of anemia in individuals with JLNS in Norway [Tranebjærg et al 1999].
The sex ratio among individuals with JLNS is even, but females are at lower risk for cardiac arrest/sudden death [Schwartz et al 2006].
Physical examination is unremarkable except for deafness.
Heterozygotes. Individuals who are heterozygous for pathogenic variants associated with JLNS usually have normal hearing. In some heterozygotes, QTc prolongation, fainting, and sudden death never occur. In contrast, some individuals heterozygous for pathogenic variants associated with JLNS may have QTc prolongation associated with fainting and death heritable in an autosomal dominant manner. This form of LQTS is called Romano-Ward syndrome (RWS). RWS can also be caused by pathogenic variants in several genes that do not cause deafness/JLNS in a homozygous form (see Differential Diagnosis). These pathogenic variants may be associated with highly variable QTc intervals, from normal to markedly abnormal.
Histopathology of temporal bone. Histologic examination of a few temporal bones was performed prior to the availability of molecular genetic testing, but not since. In a mouse model with knock out for Kcnq1 (which can be considered an animal model for JLNS in humans), atrophy of the stria vascularis and collapse of the endolymphatic compartments and surrounding membranes are marked. Complete degeneration of the organ of Corti and associated degeneration of the spiral ganglion were found [Rivas & Francis 2005]. In one Norwegian individual with JLNS resulting from homozygosity for the c.572_576del pathogenic variant in KCNQ1, histopathologic examination of the temporal bones showed severe atrophy of the stria vascularis and the organ of Corti with absence of cochlear nerve fibers [Tranebjærg L & Merchant SM, unpublished data 2012].
Data from a large number of individuals with molecularly confirmed JLNS have aided in establishing better predictors for a correlation between genotype and phenotype. Among 63 individuals who were genotyped, 33% were compound heterozygotes [Schwartz et al 2006]. No clinical difference was evident between persons with at least one inactivating mutation (insertion/deletion, splice mutation, truncation) and those with missense mutations.
Among six asymptomatic individuals in the study of Schwartz et al , two had KCNQ1 pathogenic variants and four had KCNE1 pathogenic variants, further confirming the milder presentation of JLNS associated with KCNE1 pathogenic variants compared to JLNS associated with KCNQ1 pathogenic variants.
Lange-Nielsen syndrome has also been called cardioauditory syndrome of Jervell and Lange-Nielsen and surdo-cardiac syndrome.
JLNS is now appreciated to be a true syndrome, in which the cardiac and cochlear pathologies are attributable to a common molecular etiology. Although there are several case reports in the older literature of individuals with long QT syndrome and non-profound hearing loss, in many of these reports it is likely that the hearing loss and prolonged QT interval have different etiologies (see Differential Diagnosis).
Prevalence varies depending on the population studied:
- Sweden also has a prevalence of one in 200,000 based on a study of preadolescent children, identifying 19 cases (13 families) with a mutation spectrum of eight KCNQ1 pathogenic variants, of which p.Arg518Ter constituted 12/24 alleles [Winbo et al 2012]. Founder effects explained 83% of the mutation spectrum [Winbo et al 2014].
- The syndrome is more common in cultures in which consanguineous marriage is common.
- In a study of 350 children with congenital deafness in Turkey, one in 175 had JLNS [Ocal et al 1997].
- A particular missense KCNQ1 mutation has been identified in the heterozygous state in autosomal dominant LQTS and in the homozygous state in JLNS in a few individuals from Finland; however, no clustering of JLNS was observed in Finland, in contrast to that observed in several other rare autosomal recessive disorders [Piippo et al 2001].
- An overview of worldwide occurrence was published by Tranebjærg .
These data are the best available; however, diagnostic criteria using a QTc greater than 440 msec in children are likely to include some false positives, perhaps as many as 15%-20% [Allan et al 2001]. The design of the review by Schwartz et al  did not allow refinement of prevalence estimates.
Genetically Related (Allelic) Disorders
Heterozygosity for pathogenic variants in KCNQ1 and KCNE1 has been observed in children without hearing loss who have long QT syndrome (LQTS) inherited in an autosomal dominant manner [Towbin et al 2001] (also called Romano-Ward syndrome) (see Differential Diagnosis).
Deafness and prolonged QTc with or without long QT syndrome (LQTS) both have multiple etiologies, including genetic and environmental causes. In many individuals with both deafness and prolonged QTc (or LQTS), the deafness and prolonged QTc (or LQTS) have separate etiologies. All of these possibilities must be considered in each affected individual, particularly in the absence of parental consanguinity or an affected sib. The following considerations are relevant in an individual who has both deafness and prolonged QTc:
- Prior to the availability of molecular genetic testing, the diagnosis of Jervell and Lange-Nielsen syndrome (JLNS) was based on clinical criteria alone. (Romano-Ward syndrome was commonly diagnosed in persons with LQTS and normal hearing.)
- Some children with JLNS may be misdiagnosed with epilepsy and incorrectly treated with antiepileptic drugs before the correct diagnosis of JLNS is established [Tranebjærg et al 1999].
Prolonged QTc. Long QT multi-gene panels may include testing for a number of the genes related to disorders discussed in this section. Note: The genes involved and methods used vary by laboratory.
Romano-Ward syndrome (RWS, long QT syndrome) is a purely cardiac electrophysiologic disorder, characterized by QT prolongation and T-wave abnormalities on the ECG and the ventricular tachycardia torsade de pointes (TdP). The diagnosis of RWS is made on the basis of a prolonged QT interval on the ECG, clinical presentation, and family history; or identification of a pathogenic variant in KCNQ1 (LQT1), KCNH2 (LQT2), SCN5A (LQT3), KCNE1 (LQT5), KCNE2 (LQT6), CAV3 (LQT9), SCN4B (LQT10), AKAP9 (LQT11), SNTA1 (LQT12), or KCNJ5 (LQT13) in the absence of profound congenital sensorineural deafness (the presence of which is highly suggestive of Jervell and Lange-Nielsen syndrome). Individuals with pathogenic variants in KCNE1 may also have atrial fibrillation [Olesen et al 2012]. Mutation of two other genes, ANK2 and KCNJ2, has been proposed as causative of LQT4 and LQT7, respectively, but uncertainty exists as to whether the long QT syndrome (LQTS) designation is appropriate for these conditions and further study is underway. Diagnostic criteria have been established for the resting ECG QTc value in the absence of specific conditions known to lengthen the QTc interval. For a summary of the genes known to be associated with RWS see Romano-Ward Syndrome. Only KCNQ1 and KCNE1 have been implicated in both RWS and JLNS.
Three families with autosomal recessive Romano-Ward syndrome without hearing loss have been well studied [Larsen et al 1999].
Other genetic disorders considered to be cardiac channelopathies associated with LQTS include the following [Ackerman 2005]:
Acquired causes of LQTS include the following:
- Electrolyte abnormalities: hypokalemia, hypomagnesemia, hypocalcemia
- Malnutrition or liquid protein diet
- Drugs: vasodilators, tricyclic antidepressants, organophosphates, antihistamines, phenothiazines, procainamide, disopyramide, quinidine, and many others. For a complete, updated list see www.crediblemeds.org (registration required).
- Primary myocardial problems: cardiomyopathy, myocarditis, ischemia
- Central nervous or autonomic system injury; subarachnoid hemorrhage; stellate ganglion blockade
Hearing loss. The differential diagnosis for hearing loss includes consideration of other forms of syndromic and nonsyndromic disorders, as well as acquired disorders. For more information on hereditary hearing loss, see Deafness and Hereditary Hearing Loss Overview.
One disorder that should be noted specifically is DFNB1, the most common autosomal recessive form of nonsyndromic hearing loss. DFNB1 is characterized by congenital, non-progressive, mild-to-profound sensorineural hearing impairment. No other associated medical findings are present. Diagnosis of DFNB1 depends on identification of deafness-causing pathogenic variants in GJB2 and/or GJB6, which alter the gap junction beta-2 protein (connexin 26) and the gap junction beta-6 protein (connexin 30), respectively. Molecular genetic testing detects more than 99% of pathogenic variants in these genes. JLNS should be suspected in any infant who has profound bilateral sensorineural hearing loss, no identifiable GJB2 or GJB6 pathogenic variants, and a normal physical examination.
Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) (OMIM 272120). Recent data from multicenter studies indicate that 9.5% of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) cases may be heterozygous for functionally significant mutations in one of the known LQTS-related genes [Arnestad et al 2007, Berul & Perry 2007, Wang et al 2007]. Sudden arrhythmic death may thus be an important contributor to SIDS, and it is unknown which proportion of such cases have or would develop profound hearing impairment. Implementation of universal neonatal hearing screening, supplemented with early electrocardiography, may have the potential to identify high-risk children.
Evaluations Following Initial Diagnosis
To establish the extent of disease and needs in an individual diagnosed with Jervell and Lange-Nielsen syndrome (JLNS), the following evaluations are recommended:
- Formal audiologic evaluation for extent of hearing loss
- Cardiac examination including calculation of QTc
- A three-generation family history which focuses on cardiac disease, syncope, and hearing ability
- Complete blood count to screen for anemia. If anemia is present, screening for iron deficiency is recommended.
- Medical genetics consultation
Treatment of Manifestations
Hearing loss in JLNS may be treated successfully with cochlear implantation (CI), an intervention that does not interfere with bipolar pacemakers [Green et al 2000, Chorbachi et al 2002] (see Deafness and Hereditary Hearing Loss Overview). To date, the cumulative published experience includes approximately 20 individuals with JLNS who have received cochlear implantation. Of note, the diagnosis of JLNS was only verified with molecular genetic testing in four Norwegian individuals, all of whom had pathogenic variants in KCNQ1. An increase in sound-related syncopal episodes was noted after cochlear implantation in one child [Al-Aama et al 2013].
Note: Although cochlear implantation appears to be safe, special precautions are necessary during anesthesia because of the increased risk for cardiac arrhythmia [Daneshi et al 2008, Siem et al 2008, Yanmei et al 2008]. One affected individual died during a perioperative cardiac arrest [Broomfield et al 2010].
Cardiac issues. The main goal in management of JLNS is prevention of syncope, cardiac arrest, and sudden death. Note that efficacy of beta-blocker treatment is only partial: 51% of treated individuals had cardiac events and 27% had cardiac arrest or sudden death. Even with additional therapies (e.g., pacemaker, implantable cardioverter/defibrillator, left sympathetic denervation), 18 (56%) of 32 individuals experienced additional symptoms, including sudden death in seven [Schwartz et al 2006].
- Administration of beta-adrenergic blockers has been the traditional first-line medical therapy for cardiac events, but more aggressive immediate treatment may be appropriate. In contrast to Romano-Ward syndrome (RWS), cardiac events in JLNS frequently occur despite beta blockade [Schwartz et al 2006]. Goldenberg et al  demonstrated markedly increased mortality in individuals with JLNS treated exclusively with beta blockers in comparison with individuals with RWS. A mortality rate of 35% over five years was observed for individuals receiving beta blockers exclusively; 86% of individuals treated exclusively with beta blockers experienced a cardiac event. The interactions of beta blockers with other medical conditions (e.g., asthma, diabetes mellitus, depression) should also be considered. Propranolol and nadolol have been shown to be more effective than metoprolol in suppressing cardiac events [Chockalingam et al 2012, Winbo et al 2014].
- Implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) should be considered in individuals with a history of cardiac arrest or failure to respond to other treatments [Goel et al 2004]. More recent recommendations have strongly urged ICD placement for high-risk individuals, defined by the following criteria [Schwartz et al 2006]:
• QTc interval >550 msec
• Syncope before age 5 years
• Male gender, age >20 years with KCNQ1 pathogenic variant
The risk for sudden cardiac death appears to be low in individuals younger than age five years, but medical therapy should be administered early on in these high-risk individuals and ICD placement considered after age five years [Richter & Brugada 2006].
- In certain cases, the availability of automated external defibrillators in the home, workplace, or school may be applicable, as is appropriate CPR training of family members and those who have regular contact with individuals with JLNS.
- Left cardiac sympathetic denervation has been effective for some patients.
Iron deficiency anemia. The treatment of iron deficiency anemia should follow standard guidelines.
Prevention of Primary Manifestations
See Treatment of Manifestations regarding prevention of syncope, cardiac arrest, and sudden death.
Prevention of Secondary Complications
Beta-blocker dose should be regularly assessed for efficacy and adverse effects, and doses altered as needed. Because dose adjustment is especially important in growing children, evaluation is appropriate every three to six months during rapid growth phases.
Regular, periodic evaluation of implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) for inappropriate shocks and pocket or lead complications is indicated.
Agents/Circumstances to Avoid
The following should be avoided:
- Drugs that cause further prolongation of the QT interval or provoke torsade de pointes; see www.crediblemeds.org for a complete and updated list (registration required).
- Triggers for intense or sudden emotion; activities that are known to precipitate syncopal events in individuals with long QT syndrome, including:
- Competitive sports
- Amusement park rides
- Frightening movies
- Jumping into cold water
A cardiologist should make recommendations for activity restrictions based on the effectiveness of medical intervention.
Evaluation of Relatives at Risk
It is appropriate to evaluate sibs of a proband in order to identify as early as possible those who would benefit from initiation of treatment and preventive measures.
- If the pathogenic variants in the family are known, molecular genetic testing can be used to clarify the genetic status of at-risk sibs.
- If the pathogenic variants in the family are not known, ECG testing should be undertaken to evaluate for QT prolongation.
- Standard newborn screening programs are sufficient to identify hearing loss in children with JLNS.
Because of the relationship between JLNS and Romano-Ward syndrome, electrocardiogram should be considered for relatives at risk for JLNS even if they have normal hearing.
If the JLNS pathogenic variants in an affected family member are known, molecular genetic testing of a relative with congenital profound sensorineural hearing loss is recommended to confirm the diagnosis of JLNS.
See Genetic Counseling for issues related to testing of at-risk relatives for genetic counseling purposes.
Consideration should be given as to whether a mother who has a fetus affected with JLNS herself has long QT syndrome [Seth et al 2007].
Therapies Under Investigation
Search ClinicalTrials.gov for access to information on clinical studies for a wide range of diseases and conditions. Note: There may not be clinical trials for this disorder.
Family members of individuals with JLNS should be trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) as up to 95% of individuals with JLNS have a cardiac event before adulthood [Schwartz et al 2006].
Affected individuals should wear an ID bracelet explaining their diagnosis.
It is appropriate to notify local emergency medical services (EMS) of high-risk persons, including those with JLNS [Hazinski et al 2004].
Genetic counseling is the process of providing individuals and families with information on the nature, inheritance, and implications of genetic disorders to help them make informed medical and personal decisions. The following section deals with genetic risk assessment and the use of family history and genetic testing to clarify genetic status for family members. This section is not meant to address all personal, cultural, or ethical issues that individuals may face or to substitute for consultation with a genetics professional. —ED.
Mode of Inheritance
Jervell and Lange-Nielsen syndrome (JLNS) is inherited in an autosomal recessive manner.
Risk to Family Members
Parents of a proband
- Parents of a child with JLNS are usually obligate heterozygotes (i.e., carriers of one KCNQ1 or KCNE1 pathogenic variant). In rare cases, only one parent is a carrier and the other mutation is de novo [Schwartz et al 2000].
- Parents may or may not have the LQTS phenotype. Studies have documented autosomal dominant inheritance of moderately prolonged QTc intervals in some, but not all, families in which one or more sibs have JLNS [Splawski et al 1997].
- Recommendations for evaluation of the parents of a child with JLNS include:
- Molecular genetic testing if the pathogenic variants have been identified;
- Comprehensive electrocardiographic testing for evidence of QTc prolongation by a physician familiar with LQTS.
Sibs of a proband
- At conception, each sib of an individual with JLNS usually has a 25% chance of being affected with JLNS, a 50% chance of being heterozygous for a JLNS-associated pathogenic variant and at risk for LQTS, and a 25% chance of being unaffected and not a carrier. Thus, at conception, each sib of a proband with JLNS has a 3/4 chance of having either JLNS or LQTS.
- Sibs with normal hearing are at a 2/3 risk of being carriers of a pathogenic variant causing JLNS and being at risk for LQTS.
- Sibs of a proband who has a de novo mutation are not at increased risk for JLNS but are at 50% risk for LQTS.
- Recommendations for evaluation of sibs of a proband with JLNS include:
- Audiologic evaluation;
- Electrophysiologic evaluation for evidence of LQTS;
- Molecular genetic testing if the pathogenic variants in the proband are known;
- Comprehensive electrocardiographic testing for evidence of QTc prolongation by a physician familiar with LQTS.
Offspring of a proband
- The offspring of an individual with JLNS inherit one pathogenic allele; thus, 100% of the proband's offspring are at risk for LQTS.
- In the event that the reproductive partner of the proband is also a carrier of a pathogenic variant in the same gene in which two pathogenic variants have been identified in the proband, the risk to offspring of having JLNS is 50%.
- Recommendations for evaluation of the offspring of an individual with JLNS include comprehensive electrocardiographic testing for evidence of QTc prolongation by a physician familiar with LQTS.
Other family members. Sibs of a proband's parents may also be at 50% risk of having a pathogenic variant in KCNQ1 or KCNE1 and at risk for LQTS.
Carrier testing is possible for family members once the KCNQ1 or KCNE1 pathogenic variants have been identified in the family.
Related Genetic Counseling Issues
See Management, Evaluation of Relatives at Risk for information on evaluating at-risk relatives for the purpose of early diagnosis and treatment.
Because prolonged QTc interval in families with JLNS may follow an autosomal dominant inheritance pattern, it is important that family members at risk undergo electrocardiographic testing for evidence of LQTS early in life. Individuals with LQTS are at increased risk for sudden death and thus require cardiologic intervention. The actual risk for LQTS in family members of individuals with JLNS is not known.
Carriers of JLNS have a single pathogenic variant in a gene for LQTS that may cause QTc prolongation or LQTS in either a clinically significant or clinically insignificant form. Whether the mutation is clinically significant or insignificant, it may be transmitted in a clinically significant fashion to future generations as either LQTS (i.e., Romano-Ward syndrome) or JLNS, a confusing phenomenon during pedigree evaluation.
- The optimal time for determination of genetic risk, clarification of carrier status, and discussion of the availability of prenatal testing is before pregnancy.
- It is appropriate to offer genetic counseling (including discussion of potential risks to offspring and reproductive options) to young adults who are affected, are carriers, or are at risk of being carriers.
DNA banking is the storage of DNA (typically extracted from white blood cells) for possible future use. Because it is likely that testing methodology and our understanding of genes, allelic variants, and diseases will improve in the future, consideration should be given to banking DNA of affected individuals.
If the KCNQ1 or KCNE1 pathogenic variants have been identified in an affected family member, prenatal testing for pregnancies at increased risk may be available from a clinical laboratory that offers either testing of this gene or custom prenatal testing.
Requests for prenatal testing for conditions which (like JLNS) do not affect intellect and have some treatment available are not common. Differences in perspective may exist among medical professionals and in families regarding the use of prenatal testing, particularly if the testing is being considered for the purpose of pregnancy termination rather than early diagnosis. Although most centers would consider decisions about prenatal testing to be the choice of the parents, discussion of these issues is appropriate.
Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) may be an option for some families in which the KCNQ1 or KCNE1 pathogenic variants have been identified.
GeneReviews staff has selected the following disease-specific and/or umbrella support organizations and/or registries for the benefit of individuals with this disorder and their families. GeneReviews is not responsible for the information provided by other organizations. For information on selection criteria, click here.
- National Library of Medicine Genetics Home Reference
- Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndromes (SADS) Foundation508 East South TempleSuite #202Salt Lake City UT 84102Phone: 800-786-7723 (toll-free); 801-531-0937Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Long QT Syndrome (LQTS) RegistryAn ongoing research study with the goal of contributing to a better understanding of the genetics, natural history, and treatment of LQTS. Currently enrolling families in which a mutation has already been identified.University of Rochester Medical Center265 Crittenden BoulevardCU 420653Rochester NY 14642-0653Phone: 585-276-0016Fax: 585-273-5283
Information in the Molecular Genetics and OMIM tables may differ from that elsewhere in the GeneReview: tables may contain more recent information. —ED.
Molecular Genetic Pathogenesis
Jervell and Lange-Nielsen syndrome (JLNS) is caused by an aberration in a potassium channel found in the stria vascularis of the cochlea (inner ear) and the heart.
- KCNQ1 and KCNE1 encode the alpha and beta subunit proteins (KVLQT1/minK) for the slow potassium current, IKs of the cochlea and the heart.
- When stimulated by sound, potassium from the scala media of the cochlea passes through the apex of the hair cells, depolarizing the hair cells and causing a calcium-channel-induced release of neurotransmitter onto the auditory nerve. Depolarizations of the auditory nerve are sent centrally where they are perceived as sound. The maintenance of high potassium concentration in the endolymphatic fluid of the inner ear is required for normal hearing. The potassium-rich fluid of the scala media is created by the IKs potassium channels (exclusively KVLQT1/minK) in the stria vascularis.
- Malfunction in these channels in the cochlea causes deafness.
- Malfunction in these channels in the heart results in abnormal ventricular electrical activity and LQTS.
Gene structure. KCNQ1 is located at chromosome 11p15 and consists of 16 exons spanning approximately 400 kb. For a detailed summary of gene and protein information, see Table A, Gene.
Pathogenic allelic variants. At least 13 pathogenic variants in KCNQ1 are known, ten resulting in frameshift and premature truncation [Tyson et al 2000, Wang et al 2002, Ning et al 2003, Zehelein et al 2006, Bhuiyan et al 2008, Ohno et al 2008, Zhang et al 2008, Baek et al 2010, Wang et al 2011, Gao et al 2012]. Both deletion and duplication of one or more exons of KCNQ1 are known to cause long QT syndrome [Zehelein et al 2006, Eddy et al 2008, Sung et al 2014].
Normal gene product. The gene product is potassium voltage-gated channel subfamily KQT member 1 (also known as voltage-gated potassium channel protein KvLQT1); this alpha subunit has six transmembrane regions. It coassembles with the protein encoded by KCNE1 to form the functional channel IKs.
Abnormal gene product. Pathogenic variants in the gene result in premature truncation and inability to coassemble with the protein encoded by KCNE1 to form the functional channel IKs. In a mouse model, recessive mutations may exhibit a dominant-negative effect that is not clinically observed in affected individuals, suggesting post-translational processing effects in vivo [Thomas et al 2007, Hothi et al 2009].
Gene structure. KCNE1 is located at chromosome 21q22.12 and consists of three exons spanning approximately 40 kb. For a detailed summary of gene and protein information, see Table A, Gene.
Pathogenic allelic variants. Four pathogenic variants have been identified in KCNE1, all of which are missense (see Table A).
Normal gene product. Potassium voltage-gated channel subfamily E member 1 (also known as minK potassium channel protein beta subunit) is a protein of 130 amino acids with one transmembrane region. It coassembles with the protein encoded by KCNQ1 to form the functional channel IKs.
Abnormal gene product. The specific effect of each pathogenic variant differs in the manner in which it impairs potassium channel function.
Published Guidelines/Consensus Statements
- American College of Medical Genetics. Genetics evaluation guidelines for the etiologic diagnosis of congenital hearing loss. Genetic evaluation of congenital hearing loss expert panel. Available online. 2002. Accessed 11-18-14.
- American College of Medical Genetics. Statement on universal newborn hearing screening. Available online. 2000. Accessed 11-18-14.
- Ackerman MJ. Cardiac causes of sudden unexpected death in children and their relationship to seizures and syncope: genetic testing for cardiac electropathies. Semin Pediatr Neurol. 2005;12:52–8. [PubMed: 15929465]
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Shane M Daley, MD; Mayo Clinic-Scottsdale (2002-2010)
Glenn Edward Green, MD (2002-present)
Ricardo A Samson, MD (2002-present)
Lisbeth Tranebjærg, MD, PhD (2002-present)
- 20 November 2014 (me) Comprehensive update posted live
- 4 October 2012 (me) Comprehensive update posted live
- 23 February 2010 (me) Comprehensive update posted live
- 19 March 2007 (me) Comprehensive update posted to live Web site
- 29 July 2004 (me) Comprehensive update posted to live Web site
- 13 January 2003 (gg) Revision: Molecular Genetic Testing
- 29 July 2002 (me) Review posted to live Web site
- 8 October 2001 (gg) Original submission
Department of Audiology
H:S Bispebjerg Hospital
Wilhelm Johannsen Center for Functional Genomics
Institute of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
The Panum Institute
University of Copenhagen
University of Arizona College of Medicine
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Initial Posting: July 29, 2002; Last Update: November 20, 2014.
University of Washington, Seattle, Seattle (WA)
Tranebjærg L, Samson RA, Green GE. Jervell and Lange-Nielsen Syndrome. 2002 Jul 29 [Updated 2014 Nov 20]. In: Pagon RA, Adam MP, Ardinger HH, et al., editors. GeneReviews® [Internet]. Seattle (WA): University of Washington, Seattle; 1993-2016.