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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2000 Mar;85(3):1059-65.

Predicting phenotype in steroid 21-hydroxylase deficiency? Comprehensive genotyping in 155 unrelated, well defined patients from southern Germany.

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University Children's Hospital, Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich, Germany.


Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) is a group of autosomal recessive disorders. CAH is most often caused by deficiency of steroid 21-hydroxylase. The frequency of CYP21-inactivating mutations and the genotype-phenotype relationship were characterized in 155 well defined unrelated CAH patients. We were able to elucidate 306 of 310 disease-causing alleles (diagnostic sensitivity, 98.7%). The most frequent mutation was the intron 2 splice site mutation (30.3%), followed by gene deletions (20.3%), the I172N mutation (19.7%) and large gene conversions (7.1%). Five point mutations were detected that have not been described in other CAH cohorts. Genotypes were categorized in 4 mutation groups (null, A, B, and C) according to their predicted functional consequences and compared to the clinical phenotype. The positive predictive value for null mutations (ppv(null)) was 100%, as all patients with these mutations had a salt-wasting phenotype. In mutation group A (intron 2 splice site mutation in homozygous or heterozygous form with a null mutation), the ppv(A) to manifest with salt-wasting CAH was 90%. In group B predicted to result in simple virilizing CAH (I172N in homozygous or compound heterozygous form with a more severe mutation), ppv(B) was 74%. In group C (P30L, V281L, P453S in homozygous or compound heterozygous form with a more severe mutation), ppv(C) was 64.7% to exhibit the nonclassical form of CAH, but 90% when excluding the P30L mutation. Thus, in general, a good genotype-phenotype relationship is shown in patients with either the severest or the mildest mutations. A considerable degree of divergence is observed within mutation groups of intermediate severity. As yet undefined factors modifying 21-hydroxylase gene expression and steroid hormone action are likely to account for these differences in phenotypic expression.

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