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Mod Pathol. 1999 Dec;12(12):1112-23.

Identification of heterozygote carriers in families with a recessive form of pseudoxanthoma elasticum (PXE).

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Biomedical Sciences Department, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy.


Skin biopsies of 18 healthy relatives of patients with pseudoxanthoma elasticum (PXE), belonging to six different recessive families, have been examined by optical and electron microscopy in order to determine morphologic alterations potentially useful for the identification of carriers of this genetic disorder. These morphologic features have been compared with those observed in the same tissue areas of eight PXE patients belonging to the same families, with six normal subjects, and to the carrier status of these apparently unaffected relatives as determined by haplotype analysis using informative markers surrounding the locus of the PXE gene on chromosome 16p. The dermis of all the relatives of PXE patients, established by haplotype analysis to be heterozygote carriers of a mutation in the PXE gene, exhibited several alterations very similar, although less severe, to those typical in PXE patients. Alterations were present in the reticular dermis and consisted of irregular-sized collagen bundles and elastic fibers; elastic fibers fragmented, cribriform, and mineralized; numerous fibroblasts, larger than normal, and subendothelial elastin in small vessels. Strikingly, none of these dermal changes were noted in an unaffected relative in one family who was identified as a noncarrier by haplotype analysis. Although many of these alterations are not specific for PXE, the presence of these morphologic changes in unaffected relatives of PXE patients indicates alterations in skin that could be diagnostic for carriers of a subclinical phenotype of PXE.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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