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Mol Genet Metab. 2010 Aug;100(4):379-84. doi: 10.1016/j.ymgme.2010.04.013. Epub 2010 Apr 29.

Very high penetrance and occurrence of Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy in a large Han Chinese pedigree carrying the ND4 G11778A mutation.

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  • 1School of Ophthalmology and Optometry, Wenzhou Medical College, Wenzhou, Zhejiang, China.


We report here the clinical, genetics and molecular characterization of a five-generation Han Chinese family with Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON). Strikingly, this family exhibits very high penetrance and occurrence of optic neuropathy. In particular, 25 (10 males/15 females) of 30 matrilineal relatives exhibited the variable severity, ranging from profound to mild of visual impairment. This penetrance of optic neuropathy in this Chinese family is much higher than those in many families with LHON worldwide. The age-at-onset for visual impairment in matrilineal relatives in this Chinese family varied from 7 to 24years old, with the average of 15 years old. Furthermore, the ratio between affected male and female matrilineal relatives is 1:1.5 in the Chinese family. This observation is in contrast with the typical features in LHON pedigrees that there was predominance of affected males in LHON in many families from different ethnic origins. Molecular analysis of mitochondrial genome identified the known ND4 G11778A mutation and 51 variants, belonging to Asian haplogroup C4a1. The absence of other known secondary LHON-associated and functionally significant mtDNA mutations in this Chinese family suggested that mitochondrial variants may not play an important role in the phenotypic manifestation of the G11778A mutation in this Chinese family. Therefore, nuclear modifier gene(s) may be responsible for very high penetrance and occurrence of optic neuropathy in this Chinese pedigree.

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